While the world of animation is marked by limitless possibilities, the opportunities for black people, especially black women, to navigate it have historically been limited.
However, for the first time in years, the playing field is leveling out.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a long way to go with the accountability claims reports of the animation and entertainment industry as a whole when it comes to hiring and support black talent. There are black women who work as animation writers, but their stories are often the last to be told. Talents like Karen Rupert Toliver (Hair love) and studios like Black Women Animate, founded by CEO Taylor K. Shaw and dedicated to portraying black women in animation, there’s a community for new and seasoned writers.
BGN had the chance to meet one of the brightest talents in the animation writing industry: Denise Downer.
Known for her enchanting work on the Emmy Award-winning television series Still water, this multi-talented screenwriter and animation producer raises the stakes. Downer has also worked on Marvel’s flagship shows. Avengers: Black Panther Quest, Marvel Spider Man, Aaahh !!! Real monsters, Barbie dreamtopie, and more.
She even has her own spooky children’s graphic novel called Tombstone twins which tells the dark comic tale of children who died scandalously in the supernatural college of the underworld.
As a child, Downer began to muster his love for writing and envision the career of his dreams – and it wasn’t in animation.
âWhen I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I saw myself writing books because I knew I was an avid reader, âDowner explained. When she arrived in Los Angeles as an adult, she became interested in writing in the entertainment industry. She didn’t apply for animation writing jobs, but started out with live television, especially sitcoms. She was able to work multiple jobs in live action writing until suddenly a unique opportunity presented itself.