The Road Less Traveled
I know a lot about creating my own path. Some of my biggest accomplishments have come from putting myself out there and using unconventional tactics that have resulted in me securing positions “on accident.” This has happened on two separate occasions: my first job in the animation industry and my professor position at a university.
My first job in animation was working for a company in South Korea called Digital eMation. I was initially in Korea as a native English teacher and was considering teaching for a second year, but after a conversation with a friend, I decided to head back to America after my contract was over. With a new frame of mind, a thought popped into my head to email Korean animation companies about tours, so I could see a studio for the first time. One of the animation companies that responded was Digital eMation.
I headed up to Seoul from Gwangju, where I lived and met the president and vice president for a tour. At the end, they sat me down in the president’s office and asked if I had a portfolio. Because animation wasn’t front of mind while working as a teacher, I didn’t have one, but assured them that I could put one together. When I got back to Gwangju, I worked on my new portfolio in-between classes, after school, and on the weekends. Almost four months to the day, I sent my fresh 3D modeling portfolio to Digital eMation and was invited back up to Seoul. When I met with the president, he offered me a job. Despite not knowing how the move and housing was going to work out because that was provided by my school, I took the job.
Because of my leap of faith, I had the opportunity of working on some popular American TV shows like Family Guy and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I also celebrated the fact that I didn’t waste four years of college and had chosen the right career. Despite it taking over two years to land my first job in the industry.
A second passion of mine is education. Part of it comes from having a college professor as a father and a minister as a mother. The other part comes from me not finding animation as a career until my senior year of high school. Because of that, I use my BlkWmnAnimator platform to expose children to animation as a career as early as possible and help people of all ages understand the magic that is animation. This passion led to another stint of random emailing.
Living in New Orleans, where the animation industry is almost non-existent, I wanted to go to colleges that had film and design programs to share the possibilities of working in the animation industry. I started off reaching out to all the historically black colleges and universities in the area because I wanted them to see someone who looks like them working in the industry. I also expanded my outreach to the other post-secondary institutions.Dillard University and Loyola University New Orleans (LOYNO) responded.
I was able to speak to the visual arts students at Dillard University. And when I sat down with the department head of the Graphic Design department at LOYNO, not only was I invited to speak to the students at their monthly design forum, but the department head guaranteed that in a year, by the next Spring semester, I would be teaching a 3D class at the university. And the department head kept her word! By Spring 2017, I was teaching a Cinema 4D course at a university, with only a bachelor’s degree to my name.
Both stories illustrate the power of taking control of your destiny and creating your own path. Also, always be ready, so you don’t have to get ready. I was definitely lucky in my South Korea journey that they were willing to wait for me to have all my ducks in a row, but I advise going into any situation with everything you need to be successful.