Women In Animation Sets Honorees For Sixth Annual WIA Diversity Awards – Deadline

Women in Animation has named producer Chris Nee, Epic Games and and Seyed Mohsen Pourmohseni Shakib’s film It’s a Gray, Gray World as the recipients of its sixth annual WIA Diversity Awards, which are being doled out as part of Spark Animation 2022.

WIA Head of Operations Jena Olson will present the awards in a taped presentation to be made available online from the first day of the Vancouver-based festival, which is running in-person from October 27-30, and will also be accessible via livestream.

The WIA Diversity Awards were established to recognize and honor individuals, films and organizations that have made a significant impact in expanding the diversity of voices in the art and industry of animation, either through their own creative work, by fostering the work of others, or by leading diversity initiatives that enrich our industry and society. 

Perhaps best known as the creator and executive producer of Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins, Nee is a Peabody, Humanitas and Emmy Award-winner who has also worked on programs like Sesame Street and at studios like Nickelodeon, developing a reputation for her commitment to inclusion and genuine representation within animation.

Epic Games is the video game industry leader which not only runs Fortnite —one of the world’s most popular games — but is actively working toward making its 3D engine tech accessible to as many creatives as possible. Through its flagship programs — The Unreal Educator Accelerator: Arts, Media, and Entertainment Workforce Training Initiative and the MegaGrants Program — the organization has also removed some of the barriers facing many marginalized creatives looking to work in the gaming and VFX industries.

Shakib has looked since the beginnings of his career at age 17 to uplift the voices of marginalized people through his art. His latest film, It’s a Gray, Gray World, presents a monochrome gray world where a discreet young man’s colorful identity is accidentally publicly exposed by a playful child. The frightened gray community call the police to arrest the young man, but he is able to escape, only to return to fight for his full freedom.

“For the last six years, the WIA Diversity Awards have shined a spotlight on those individuals and organizations putting in the work to make the animation and VFX industries a more diverse and equitable place for all people to prosper and create,” said WIA President, Marge Dean. “They are cultivating a culture where rich storytelling can thrive.”

“As we get older our priorities change, and nothing could make me prouder at this point in my career than to be recognized for working to bring new voices, diverse voices, to the table,” added 2022 honoree, Nee. “A huge thank you to WIA and the Spark Animation Festival for the huge honor.”

Women in Animation is a non-profit on a mission to bring together a global community of animation professionals to empower and support people of underrepresented gender identities in the art, science and business of animation by increasing access to resources, creating opportunities for education, encouraging strong connections between individuals, and inspiring excellence. More information on the organization founded in 1995 can be found here.

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