Ralph Farquhar

Celebrating Black Creativity in Animation

Discover how black animators have transformed the animation industry with cultural richness and creativity, from early history to modern award-winning works.


Nov. 23 2023, Published 2:38 a.m. ET

Black animators have made meaningful contributions to the craft since the birth of animation movies in the early 19th century. From the iconic 2D animations to the more recent 3D, stop motion, rotoscope, motion graphics, Claymation, typographic animation, and cutout animation, black creators have used their unique skills to bring new things into the animation entertainment industry.

In the beginning black creators used to face system barriers, but they never relented in using their creativity and talent to reshape the animation world, bringing new concepts from diverse cultural backgrounds to the fore. The following are highlights of contributions made by black creatives in the industry.

Bruce Smith- The Proud Family

Bruce W. Smith is behind the animated movie, “The Proud Family”. He was also behind Disney’s chart-buster animated movie “Tarzan”. He was also hired to contribute to character designs in the animated movie “The Princess and the Frog”. He has a unique storytelling ability that can showcase different narratives in a movie.

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Floyd Norman- The Jungle Book and Toy Story 2

Floyd is one of the earliest black American animators who worked for Disney. She is behind Disney classic movies like “Sleeping Beauty”, and “Toy Story 2”. He was a foremost animator for many decades and has remained an inspiring figure in the industry for many upcoming and young animators.

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Matthew Cherry- Hair Love

Mathew is mostly known as a writer and director for diverse movie genres, but he rose to fame with his animated short movie, “Hair Love”. The animated movie went on to win the 2020 Academy Award for best animated short movie. The short movie discusses the intrigues in the relationship between a black dad and her daughter where natural hair and bonding were celebrated.

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Peter Ramsey- Rise of the Guardians

Peter owns the record of being the first black American animator to complete a big-budget animation movie. He worked on the “Rise of the Guardians”, and co-directed “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse”, the movie went on to win an Academy Award.

Ralph Farquhar – The Proud Family

Ralph worked with Bruce Smith to produce the animated movie, “The Proud Family”. The animated series was designed and released for Disney and was aired on their channel. The series showcased some relatable scenes and themes in the black community.

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Dwayne McDuffie- Static Shock

Dwayne is more popular for writing and designing comic books, he was the co-founder of “Milestone Media” which is responsible for the production of numerous comic books, including “Justice League Unlimited”, and “Static Shock”.

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Other Black Animators Worth Mentioning

The lists of black animators are incomplete without mentioning the likes of LaShawn Thomas, and Barry Jenkins. LaShawn Thomas is a popular black animator and director and has worked on animation projects like “Black Dynamite” and Netflix’s current series “Cannon Busters”. Barry Jenkins is more popular with the movie “Dear Basketball” where he worked with Kobe Bryant.

Lots of Upcoming Black Animators Contribute to the Representation in the Industry

The popular black animators highlighted above represent a fraction of black animators in the industry. Several upcoming black animators are equally making giant strides and their works are getting the right attention.

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