5 Female Animators Who Shook Up The Industry

5 female animators who shook up the industry We’re big believers in the power of career mentors and role models—having someone to look up to as you navigate your own professional journey can give you the help and inspiration you need to follow your dreams. And when we stumbled upon the Smithsonian Magazine’s round-up of 5 women who shook up the animation industry, well, we couldn’t have asked for a better list of role models!

The list of what writer Daniel Eagan calls “extraordinary women animators” is, simply put, a fantastic round-up of some of the best in the business. Without further ado, the list includes:

Lotte Reiniger, credited with directing the first feature-length animated film. The Berlin native made a name for herself by using cut-out silhouettes that she moved frame-by-frame. Her film credits include The Adventures of Prince Achmed and The Rose and the Ring.

Janie Geiser, an internationally acclaimed puppeteer from Baton Rouge, La. Janie founded her own puppet company and later experimented with animation techniques that unite to create a collage of effects. Make sure to watch The Red Book, a mesmerizing film that’s as beautiful as it is entertaining.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, a gifted storyboard artist and director—and someone we’re lucky to call a friend! Jennifer directed Kung Fu Panda 2, which, after making nearly $700 million at the box office, solidified Jennifer’s position as the most successful female director in Hollywood.

Helen Hill, an animator, documentary filmmaker, activist, teacher, wife and mother who completed 21 short films that explored the full range of animation. Her book Recipes for Disaster: A Handcrafted Film Cookbooklet is now a go-to resource for alternative filmmakers. Although her work was damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, most of her films are still available from the Harvard Film Archive.

Sally Cruikshank, credited with writing, animating and directing 1975’s Quasi at the Quackadero, one of the first countercultural films to break through to a mainstream audience. She cites the Fleischer Brothers and Walt Disney among her sources of inspiration. Cruikshank has animated approximately 20 pieces for Sesame Street, and has also contributed animated sequences to full-length films like Twilight Zone: The Movie.

A pretty amazing list, right? We encourage you to not only learn more about these wonderful women, but to watch their work, too—you’ll be glad you did!

As you make your own path in the world, who inspires you? We’d love to hear more about the people you look up to in the comments.

Image via Milestone Films

  • Ivan

    When I first saw “Girl’s Night Out” in my animation history class, I have never seen those type of animations before: fluid and visceral. I thought Joanna Quinn is amazing!!! I’d love to see her doing a feature or a series-type project.

    • brendachapman

      She would do an amazing feature!!!

  • I think YOU should gave been on that list!

    • brendachapman

      Awwww!!!! That’s really sweet! Thank you!

  • Kenny Barillas

    Totally agree with Aliki T Grafft … should be the main head of this list … and since you are my BIGGEST inspiration in the world, for me, would you (and you are) the best of this list … Consider it a compliment, lovingly from me… 😉 … Oh!, Jennifer Yuh, wow, I love his work!

    • brendachapman

      I blush! That’s too much!… but thank you. And I’m assuming your mean “her” work in reference to Jen Yuh? 🙂

      • Kenny Barillas

        Yes, sorry!, I made a mistake in writing? … I’m really sorry … English is my second language … O.O’… How I’m sorry!

        • brendachapman

          No worries! English is my only language. You are more educated than I am!

          • Kenny Barillas

            Oh!, Thank you!!, and sometimes it’s hard, my mother language is Spanish, but thank you very much for understanding!… 😉

          • My mother language is Spanish too 🙂

  • Andrew

    And there are also Tissa David, Retta Scott, Kathy Zielinski, and Mary Blair…

    • brendachapman

      And Kathy Altieri, Lorna Cook, Vicki Jensen, Ellen Woodbury, Lisa Keene… and look out for the up and coming Emma Coats!

  • Andrew

    Well Mary Blair wasn’t an animator, but her concept artwork certainly helped shape the visual styles of Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan

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  • Kevin Sullivan

    You’re #1 with Me Kiddo ! Be well uncle Kevin

    • Brenda Chapman

      🙂 thanks!

  • I think you really should be on that list, you’re my main inspiration ^-^

    • brendachapman

      Awww. 🙂

  • Teresa Drilling is one of the top stop motion animators in the world, http://www.teresadrilling.com/Teresa_Drilling_animation/Home.html

    • brendachapman

      Wonderful! Thanks for bringing her up!

  • Thank you so much for putting this list together it was really inspiring to see, you should defiantly be on it! I would love to link your this to my Women in Animation SF Chapter website and facebook page, I am on of the current co-presidents.

    • brendachapman

      Thank you. 🙂 I would be honored if you linked this to your website. 🙂 I’m glad it caught your attention.

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