CAPE Partners with Sony to Launch AAPI Animation Directors Program

Celebrating their 30th Anniversary, The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, aka CAPE, have recently announced their inaugural program for the CAPE Animation Directors Accelerator — powered by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the same studio that brought you Into the Spider-Verse and The Mitchells Vs. The Machines. 

Animation has been heavily influenced by Asian aesthetics, but there are few Asian American  Pacific Islanders (AAPI) animation directors that reflect the stories being told centering around Asian characters – and even less so with Pacific Islanders. The CAPE Animation Directors Accelerator aims to equip animators on-the-cusp with the skills and professional network needed to ‘break the ceiling’ for a feature film and episodic animation. 

“Studies show that children as young as 5 years old are capable of racial biases, which highlights the importance of authentic storytelling in animation,” said CAPE Executive Director Michelle K. Sugihara, in a press statement released yesterday. “Furthermore, we know that when Directors and EPs behind the camera are diverse, it leads to more diverse crew and stories. Despite the relative number of Asians working in animation, there are woefully few Asian or Pacific Islander studio animation directors or EPs, making this a critical pressure point to accelerate change in the industry.”

The new program for 2021 will be virtual. Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent company of Sony Pictures Animation, will cover all application fees for this year’s applicants. Co-chaired by Justinian Huang (VP, Creative, Sony Pictures Animation) and Michelle Wong (Producer, Vivo), the program will feature a series of panels, workshops, and masterclasses from high-level executives, producers, and creatives in the animation industry, as well as receive one-on-one executive mentorship.

“Excitingly, there are more pathways to becoming a director in animation than ever before,” said Huang. “This accelerator invites the most talented folks out there to join us in navigating those paths, strategically and mentally, as we launch a new class of directors that finally reflects the abundance of the AAPI community in animation.” Wong adds, “It’s time to look beyond the current state of directors in animation. This is a groundbreaking opportunity that will give exposure to a community that has a wealth of originality and innovation.”

Submissions for the program are now open and will close at the end of day on September 30. 

This will be CAPE’s third incubator program, alongside the CAPE Leaders Fellowship and the CAPE New Writers Fellowship. For more information about the program and their many other programs, check it out here: