Established in 2018, LatinX in Animation is an organization created to bring together Latinx professionals already working in the industry and emerging talents seeking to start their careers.
Founder and president Magdiela Hermida Duhamel, whose credits include Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, Dragons: Race to the Edge, and Uglydolls, first saw the need for such a group while working at Dreamworks Animation. Duhamel and other Latinx co-workers would gather at lunch to connect and exchanges ideas, which proved to be an invaluable resource for the underrepresented artists.
“We realized that there were many of us working in so many different disciplines, and we wanted to unify everyone to learn from other’s experiences,” Duhamel told Cartoon Brew.
The initial group quickly grew in number and expanded to other studios, encouraging Duhamel and her co-founder, Bryan Dimas, to formalize the organization and begin planning its first event. Last October, LatinX in Animation hosted its inaugural networking mixer and the event surpassed attendance expectations.
Today, just a few months after its inception, the group has 495 active members representing Dreamworks Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney Television Animation, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Netflix, Illumination Entertainment, and a variety of universities and educational institutions.
“To put this into context, in September 2018 we only had 45 members which were mainly based at one studio,” Duhamel said. “In seven months, we have grown over 1,000% across the animation, vfx, and gaming industries.”
During its short time as an organization, LatinX in Animation has successfully arranged Q&A events with industry professionals including Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life, Maya and the Three), Francisco Ruiz Velasco (co-art director of 3Below: Tales of Arcadia), Pilar Flynn (producer of Elena of Avalor), JP Sans, Pierre Perifel, and Liron Topaz (directors of the Dreamworks short Bilby), Niki Lopez (creator of Santiago of the Seas) and Diego Molano (creator of Victor and Valentino).
Duhamel noted that they’ve received enthusiastic support from most animation studios. Thanks to the mixers and Q&A sessions, several members are already in talks with studios for writing jobs, pitching opportunities, and portfolio reviews.
“The need for diverse voices is very high and we are very proud to help fill that void,” Duhamel said. In addition to their now monthly networking events, LatinX in Animation also provides access to mentorship programs, volunteering opportunities, and a job board.
Recently, LatinX in Animation joined the Latino Film Institute (LFI), a non-profit organization founded by Edward James Olmos, as one of its “signature programs.”
LFI also organizes the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) and the Youth Cinema Project. As part of LFI, LatinX in Animation plans to set up an animation program for LALIFF and an animation curriculum for the Youth Cinema Project, which is targeted at children in grade schools across southern California. Through this partnership, LatinX will also continue to offer free membership and host monthly events.