Pixar’s SparkShorts Set Out To Ignite More Diversity in Animation

pixar diversity

It’s difficult to become a director if you’re a woman or a person of color in Hollywood. It’s even more difficult to become a director in animation.

Between 2010 and 2017, only one major animation release — across Disney, Dreamworks, Universal, Warner Bros. and Fox — has been directed solely by women: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. That statistic comes from Cartoon Brew, an independently-owned animation news site that tracked 104 animation releases.

This year, Pixar has launched SparkShorts, a series of short animated films designed to give women and people of color more leadership opportunities in animation. The first three films were released in February on YouTube. (read more)

Artificial intelligence is on the brink of a ‘diversity disaster’

Artificial Intelligence

The large proportion of white men in the field is perpetuating historical biases.

The lack of diversity within artificial intelligence is pushing the field to a dangerous “tipping point,” according to new research from the AI Now Institute. It says that due to an overwhelming proportion of white males in the field, the technology is at risk of perpetuating historical biases and power imbalances.

The consequences of this issue are well documented, from hate speech-spewing chatbots to racial bias in facial recognition. The report says that these failings — attributed to a lack of diversity within the AI sector — have created a “moment of reckoning.” Report author Kate Crawford said that the industry needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and that the use of AI systems for classification, detection and predication of race and gender “is in urgent need of re-evaluation.”

Indeed, the report found that more than 80 percent of AI professors are men — a figure that reflects a wider problem across the computer science landscape. In 2015 women comprised only 24 percent of the computer and information sciences workforce. Meanwhile, only 2.5 percent of Google’s employees are black, with Facebook and Microsoft each reporting an only marginally higher four percent. Data on trans employees and other gender minorities is almost non-existent. (read more)

OSU’s chief diversity officer preaches diversity, inclusion during OSU-Lima visit

James Moore

LIMA — Diversity isn’t just about inclusion. It’s about enrollment, teaching and retention, Ohio State’s “chief diversity officer” said during a visit to the Lima campus Monday.

“It’s not just a social justice issue. It’s an economic imperative for the nation, based on the demographic changes and based on how the world is increasingly becoming flat,” said Dr. James L. Moore III, Ohio State University’s Chief Diversity Officer. “We can engage with other societies in ways we couldn’t before, and so because of that many of us are crossing borders, and we are coming in contact with communities and societies that we didn’t (before).”

Society is bringing in more people who are not like each other, some with different skin color or speaking different languages.

“Increasingly, not only are our local communities becoming more diverse and multilingual, they’re becoming global,” he said. “So it’s important that educational institutions take that into account because a public education is a public good, and it’s hard to engage our democracy without it. There are many studies that highlight that when we have diverse employees that productivity typically is stronger and more robust.”

The fight for diversity and inclusion is not a short-term goal despite the rhetoric of today’s politicians. (read more)

 

Buttigieg: I’m ‘conscious’ of lack of diversity at events

buttigieg

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Monday in New York that he is aware of the lack of diversity at some of his presidential campaign events, including the fundraiser he was headlining, adding that he was “very intent” on fixing it.

The question from a voter gets to a key question about the Buttigieg campaign: Can the South Bend mayor win over African-American voters who make up a key — if not the key — demographic in the Democratic primary?

“I could talk ’til I’m blue in the face how about how important it is that our campaign, our base of supporters and future administration reflect this country,” Buttigieg said in response to a question about the “crowd … lacking in diversity.”

“The honest answer to that question is I need your help. I need your help reaching out to anybody that could benefit from a more inclusive and more hopeful politics. And that is something that has no color.” (read more)

Sounds Like Marvel Studios Is Really Focusing On Diversity In Phase Four

marvel diversity push

A lot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fate in Phase 4 is unknown, past the fact that it will kick things off with Spider-Man: Far From Home. But there’s definitely some idea of what properties will make an appearance in the next stage of the evolution for the MCU, as confirmed by Avengers: Endgame producer Trinh Tran. While she was obviously vague about the specifics, the subject of diversity is the big focus for the next batch of films. In particular, Tran dropped the following hints:

All I can say is we have a ton of characters we haven’t explored, and I’d love to do them all. Especially given that with Captain Marvel’s success and the diversity that she brings with the female representation, and with Black Panther and that diversity, it would be great to get more of that out there. Because we have a lot of diverse characters in Marvel.

With both Captain Marvel and Black Panther raking in upwards of $1 billion in their theatrical releases, Marvel Studios has the track record to prove that audiences are definitely looking for better, more diverse representation at the multiplex. But on top of that marketable truth, the studio also has the properties to back up the current plans that Trinh Tran is hinting towards in Phase 4. (read more)

Google loses diversity chief amid unrest over workplace issues

danielle brown google.jpg

Google diversity chief Danielle Brown on Thursday said she’s leaving the search giant, as the company has dealt with several uprisings from employees over the last year related to workplace culture.

She will be replaced by Melonie Parker, who’s been serving as the company’s head of diversity, equity and inclusion. Brown, who spent almost two years at the company, said in a LinkedIn post that she’s headed to Gusto, a payroll and benefits startup based in Denver and San Francisco.

In her announcement, Brown doesn’t mention Google by name, but said she wanted to explore working on diversity issues at places other than the “biggest tech companies in the world.”

“What if, in addition to trying to solve for employee engagement and inclusion within the biggest tech companies in the world, we tried to solve those critical needs for every local storefront, every new startup just getting off the ground, or every doctor’s office across our communities?” she wrote.

Brown didn’t respond to a request for additional comment. (read more)

Ogilvy Brings on Worldwide Executive Director for Diversity and Inclusion

Yashica Olden

Ogilvy has named Yashica Olden worldwide executive director for diversity and inclusion, starting April 15. She will be responsible for expanding the agency’s diversity and inclusion efforts globally.

Olden has worked and lived in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy and Sudan, and she’s implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives in more than 50 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. The agency said this makes her the ideal candidate to globally expand the programs it has established around those issues in the U.S. The programs will be adapted to meet each individual region’s needs.

Most recently, Olden was the global inclusion lead for London-based insurance company Aviva. There, she persuaded senior executives to expand their global inclusion targets to include race and ethnicity. Prior to that, Olden was the first head of diversity and inclusion for the United Nations World Food Program, where she oversaw the establishment of the U.N.’s first women’s leadership development program. She’s also led diversity and inclusion efforts for Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse, among others.

Olden will report directly to Donna Pedro, Ogilvy worldwide chief diversity and inclusion officer and executive partner. (read more)

Iconic Johnson Publishing, the Company That Was Once Behind Ebony and Jet Magazines, Files for Bankruptcy

 

johnson publishing

Johnson Publishing Company, the historic African-American media powerhouse responsible for the start of Ebony and Jet magazines, has filed for bankruptcy.

The company sold Ebony and Jet three years ago to a private equity firm, so Tuesday’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation will not affect the publications, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

However, the company plans to sell the rest of its assets, which include Fashion Fair Cosmetics.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the decision to liquidate:

… came after failing to restructure, obtain alternative financing or find a buyer, Johnson Publishing said in a news release.

“This decision was not easy, nor should it have been,” the company added in announcing the move, the Sun Times reports. “Johnson Publishing Company is an iconic part of American and African-American history since our founding in 1942, and the company’s impact on society cannot be overstated.” (read more)

 

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