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News Release

LA Skins Fest

The LA Skins Fest, a Native American arts organization, announced today they have selected eight participants for the 2nd Annual Native American Animation Lab, a talent development program that aims to boost the careers of Native Americans in the field of animation.

“We have a talented community in need of exposure, access, and opportunity. This new endeavor will get more Native American voices in front of the right people who can develop their animation projects and build their animation careers.” stated Ian Skorodin, Choctaw, LA Skins Fest Founder.

The participants will take part in a five day curriculum that will have them meeting with executives from Sony Animation Pictures, Cartoon Network Studios, Crunchyroll and many others. The lab will consist of daily workshops, seminars and one-on-one mentoring to help each participant develop a project for the pitch panel at the end of the lab.

The five day total immersion lab will be mentored and guided by Series Creator/Executive Producer Owen Dennis (Infinity Train). At the end of the program, each participant will pitch a panel of executives from our corporate supporters.

The Native American Animation Lab was created to expand the amount of Native Americans working behind the camera, as a way to increase fair and accurate portrayals of Native Americans on television. 

The Native American Animation Lab is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Crunchyroll, Cartoon Network Studios and Women In Animation.

For more information, visit laskinsfest.com

The eight participants:

Ryan Abrahamson, Spokane Tribe of Indians, was born on the Spokane Indian Reservation and raised around the pow-wow drum; singing, dancing, fighting and creating. At an early age, Ryan understood the written word, recorded sound and moving loud images to be the ultimate forms of idea communication and artistic expression. For eighteen years, he trained to be a writer, musician and filmmaker to change the world’s view of his people and his people’s view of themselves. He believes in the saying “Understanding makes us strong.” He is signed with a literary agent, working on his third novel, and operates a digital media company in Spokane, Washington.

Joran Fox, Three Affiliated Tribes - Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, born on the Great Plains of America, Joran attended the United Tribes College for Graphic Design and produced digital comics both drawn and mixed media. After graduation, Joran gained experience working in print shops and advertising agencies in Bismarck, North Dakota. Living in the middle of nowhere didn’t present many opportunities for creative projects like comic books, film production or animation. But Joran decided to go freelance and began developing various comic concepts. Joran currently works with the The Three Affiliated Tribes, MHA Nation, in their Public Relations Office & Print Services.

JohnTom Knight, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a member of the Cherokee Nation and was born at the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma. Being raised in a suburb outside of Tulsa, JohnTom spent much of his youth participating in theater and writing comedy. His number one priority when creating any media is making sure it is fun!

Through scholarship awards for creative writing from Hallmark, the Chicago Emmys, and the American Indian Scholarship Fund, JohnTom was able to study Writing for Television at Columbia College Chicago. While and after attending school, he performed stand up and sketch comedy all around Chicago at venues such as Second City, Annoyance Theater, and the Lincoln Lodge. In 2019, JohnTom was selected as a finalist for the Walt Disney Writing Program. Following this in early 2020, he served as a production intern with [adult swim] where he was able to work on Squidbillies, 12 Oz. Mouse, William’s Street Swap Shop, and more. During his time at [adult swim], JohnTom wrote and created a number of original animated shorts that aired on the [adult swim] streams. His most recent animation project is a 3D animated series titled “Shapeland” which was distinguished and featured in The Going Insane Alone In Your House Film Festival in May 2020.

Chad Martin, Hawaiian, is a Native Hawaiian multimedia artist and life-long resident of Hawai’i. A graphic designer by trade, Chad refocused his energies in 2014 from freelance to creating engaging content that aligns with his passion for Hawaiian history and culture. Together with his wife, Chad created the Maka’iwa Keiki YouTube Channel, which teaches basic Hawaiian language through songs and family-friendly animated content.

Chad’s latest project is WAO AKUA – Realm of Gods, a young adult animated series inspired by the rich mythologies of Hawai’i and the Pacific. With the WAO AKUA series, Chad aims to create dynamic, enduring property that shares the core values, keen cleverness, and the framework of layered meaning instilled in Pacific Island storytelling.

Shelby Ramirez, Diné, is a Navajo (Diné) and Mexican American artist from the Navajo Nation (Dinétah.) She grew up in towns on the border of the reservation, and has a strong love for her land and people. She studied film with a focus on animation at Dartmouth College. Her final project was an animation which won Dartmouth’s ASIFA Animation Award. Since 2015, she has worked on multiple television shows for Nickelodeon and Fox. She enjoys writing and drawing stories which have minority female leads. Her stories seek to break down tropes and stereotypes, while touching on the experiences of modern day Native people.

Kayla Shaggy, Diné, was born in Shiprock, New Mexico, and raised on the Dine reservation. Her aptitude for art was nurtured at an early age and she would go on to graduate from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Art. Since then she has participated in different galleries and self-published her comic book, “The Sixth World”. She has created a website that features her work (kaylashaggy.gallery) and offers a mixed variation of mediums that includes installation, sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking.

Arigon Starr, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. She is the creator of Native American superhero “Super Indian,” which began as a radio theater project commissioned by the Native Radio Theater Project and Native Voices at the Autry. Arigon honed her art skills and transformed “Super Indian” into comic art that debuted as a webcomic in 2011. The work was compiled into two graphic novels, with Volume Three to be released in early 2021. She’s also the editor and a contributing writer/artist to the all-Indigenous comic anthology, “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers.” She was awarded a prestigious Tulsa Artist Fellowship from 2017-2019. Her comic artwork has also been featured online on “The Nib” and “Polygon/Vox Media” websites. Arigon is also an award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and playwright. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

Alana Tiikpuu Walker, Nez Perce, is a non-binary Niimiipuu and Diné animator and writer. They are a 2019 graduate of The Institute of American Indian Arts where they majored in Cinematic Arts & Technology. At IAIA Alana won the award for Best Broadcast production in 2016 and attended the 2017 Sundance film festival. Their short films have played at the One Heart film fest in Spokane Washington.

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