Animation in Africa: a bridge for opportunity

animation, esther pearl

From Cape Town to Cairo, Nairobi to Lagos, animation is fueling the creative economy across the African continent.

The pandemic animation boom has led to an even greater demand for content, making it a highly sought-after industry to build a successful career.

“Animation has become a bridge for employment opportunities across the African continent,” says Esther Pearl, Founder and Executive Director at Camp Reel Stories.

“With the global industry exploding as it has, animators and other creatives have quickly been snapped by studios and larger form projects, leading to plenty of gaps to be filled.”

As a professional animator, Pearl has racked up scores of experience with the bulk of her career at Pixar Animation Studios. Having moved to South Africa last year, she’s on a mission to use her skills to further develop the industry on the African continent.

“There are a lot of job opportunities out there, making it the perfect time to be in the animation arena,” she explains. “And it’s not necessarily just for those who are younger, but talented individuals from all walks of life wanting to grow their skills and hone their craft.”

It’s no secret that the continent is brimming with talented innovators wanting to get their foot in the door. Be it music, painting, sculpture, design, literature, publishing, or the performing arts, Africa’s creative sector is ripe with individuals hungry to showcase what they have to the world.

“One of the things I’m also seeing as a new South African resident, is that there are many other employment holes in the local animation value chain that need to be filled. From producers to riggers and modellers, admin assistants, scriptwriters, runners and technicians, the list is endless.”

She also highlights this crucial point: animation is not just about making films, citing an increasing uptick for the craft within advertising and various creative projects related to media and communication.

“Corporate animation and explainer videos are the bread and butter for many professionals across the globe. The industry presents a plethora of sustainable career options for Africans, so we really do need to break the stigma of those in animation as being the ‘starving artist”. 

Despite the scarcity of formal training opportunities, locally-made productions are already starting to take off due to global interest. The emergence of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have also shifted traditional ways of viewing content, giving African creatives a chance to shine.

“There are many countries and cultures in Africa, but one of the things I’ve been so impressed with is the rich storytelling that is very much ingrained within the overarching culture of this incredible continent.”

Although largely untapped, she insists that it is crucial for these stories to be showcased authentically and brought to life through an insider’s perspective. “While there is a huge demand for this type of original content, African artists need to be the ones who control that narrative,” says Pearl. “African stories are universal. I know for sure that animations based on these stories will do exceptionally well in the global market, especially because there are so many people from the continent based all over the world,” she concludes. 

Listen in to this FAME Week Africa discussion Women in FAME to hear more from Esther Pearl

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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