The winners of the fifth annual Women in Animation Diversity Awards are “Steven Universe” creator Rebecca Sugar, the short film “All Those Sensations in My Belly,” and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. According to Deadline, honors were presented by Women in Animation (WIA) president Marge Dean in a taped presentation at the Spark Animation festival and conference.
“WIA Diversity Awards highlight some of the success stories on the journey to creating more balanced representation in the animation industry,” Dean explained, “in hopes that such courageous and important work inspires others to open doors to more diversity among filmmakers and more authentic story-telling.”
Sugar received the award for Individual Achievement in recognition “not only for her personal career achievements, but also for her fight for LGBTQIA+ content in children’s media over the last decade, and for a more inclusive environment both on screen and behind the scenes in the animation industry,” per the source.
With the beloved intergalactic family saga “Steven Universe,” Sugar, who is nonbinary, became the first non-male solo showrunner at Cartoon Network. She has also served as a writer, storyboard artist, and songwriter on “Adventure Time.”
“Rebecca Sugar was a champion for gender justice long before that term even existed,” Dean said. “She has challenged the binary assumptions of gender in her work, in her communication with the world, and in how she lives her life. She is a uniquely amazing person who moves through the world as a living example of the very best of being human.”
The short animated doc “All Those Sensations in My Belly,” which recounts the real-life trans girl Matia’s gender journey and transition, won the Spark Computer Graphics Society’s juried award for Short Film.
“The Spark Animation Festival Jury selected Marko Dješka’s ‘All Those Sensations in My Belly’ for its powerful visualization of the struggles of self-discovery and finding one’s place in the world,” announced festival director Marina Antunes.
The Inclusion Initiative, a think tank analyzing media trends in representation, inclusivity, and intersectionality, led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, is the recipient of the award for Organizational Achievement.
“After years of great partnership, WIA could not be more thrilled to present the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative with the 2021 WIA Diversity Award for Organizational Achievement for their important work in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said WIA Secretary Julie Ann Crommett, “and creating accountability measures not only in animation, but for the entertainment industry as a whole.”
Earlier this year WIA launched an international talent database of women, trans, and non-binary individuals working in animation.
Spark Animation 2021 will run virtually through November 7.