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Carina Dominguez
Indian Country Today

Netflix announced its second mentorship program Friday for early-career creatives looking to break into the animation industry, and this time around the focus is on recruiting Native people and veterans.

The Netflix Animation Foundation is launching another four-month long program and it’s collaborating with IllumiNative and Veterans in Media and Entertainment to identify candidates.

The company wants to build access to the industry for underrepresented talent.

In a statement, Netflix said bringing more diverse stories to audiences, like it did in 2021 with its animated series “Maya and the Three,” helps people “see new perspectives and brings us closer.”

(Related: Netflix’s ‘Maya and the Three’ inspires a list of Indigenous warrior princesses)

The program is designed to assist early-career artists, particularly those from underrepresented communities, better compete for entry level positions in animation.

Netflix is trying to build more equity in the industry because most of the opportunities are usually scooped up by people from top animation schools or referrals from industry connections.

Netflix Animation Foundation Program 2022

“This is such a wonderful program! I came in not knowing much about the animation industry and production management for animation, but now, I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge that my mentor, Pam Coats, bestowed on me,” program participant Valeria Valdes said.

When the program was first announced last year, the focus was on Latino and autistic communities and the results were encouraging.

“This program was so helpful as an aspiring storyboard artist trying to break in,” program participant Enacio Diaz said. “My mentor showed us his creative process and was open to any questions.”

Seventy four mentees and 19 Netflix animation mentors focused on art and visual development, storyboarding, CG/VFX, writing and production management.

“Having first hand experience of someone creating a storyboard from a script was amazing to watch. All my niche questions were answered. I’ve learned so much,” Diaz said before going on to thank Netflix and his mentor.

The new cohort will receive career advice and guidance with editing and curating professionally-styled portfolios, writing samples, or resumes, so they are prepared for internship and apprenticeship program applications.

Select members of VME and IllumiNative will be invited to apply directly. Individuals can reach out and get involved with those organizations directly in order to be considered. Only mentees sourced from the partner organizations will be accepted into the program. 

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