Cartoon Network Studios has partnered with animation house Black Women Animate (BWA) to launch the first-ever Black in Animation Awards Show. The virtual ceremony will run on December 6 as the closing event for Black Women Animate’s Boot Camp, which features experienced execs from major studios including Cartoon Network Studios, Warner Bros. Animation and Nickelodeon running workshops and panels.
Hosted by Grammy-winning artist Estelle, this year’s award show’s theme is “Honoring Our Stories.” Inaugural honorees include Vanessa Morrison, president of streaming at Walt Disney Studios (Trailblazer Award); Bruce Smith, EP and director at Disney Television Animation (Narrative Creator Award); Ayoka Chenzira (Cultural Innovator Award); Tina Obo (Rising Star Award); Latoya Raveneau, director at Disney Television Animation (Next Gen Award); and Carole Holliday, animator and story artist (Lifetime Achievement Award).
Honorees were selected by the Awards Show Nomination Committee, which includes Nickelodeon’s Camille Eden, Cartoon Network’s Nicole Rivera, director Lynne Southerland, Henson’s Sidney Clifton, Lion Forge Animation’s Carl Reed, producer Jinko Gotoh and Disney’s Marlon West.
Black Women Animate is launching the awards to help bring greater awareness to unrecognized Black talent in the industry, according to a statement from the organization.
The ceremony joins the efforts of others in the kids entertainment space to celebrate and support marginalized creators. Licensing International has launched a diversity program to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, and ViacomCBS International Studios is investing 25% of its budget in LatAm to create and develop inclusive content showcasing marginalized characters and creators.
Pictured left to right: Estelle, Black Woman Animate managing partner JLove Calderón and BWA CEO Taylor Shaw.