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No more nerds, sex bombs: Female animators draw away clichés

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/22/2017 By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press
In this Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, photo, Ajani Russell poses with her artwork "Female Figures" prior to the Animated Women symposium at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, Calif. The California Institute of the Arts was created partly by Walt Disney's desire to bring more top-flight animators into the profession. And it has during its 47 years, though for a long time almost all were men. Now, nearly three-quarters of CalArts' more than 250 animation students are women, and there's a new goal: Ensure that when they land jobs, they get to draw female characters reflective of the real world and not just the nerds, sex bombs, tomboys or ugly villains who proliferate now. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) © The Associated Press In this Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, photo, Ajani Russell poses with her artwork "Female Figures" prior to the Animated Women symposium at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, Calif. The California Institute of the Arts was created partly by Walt Disney's desire to bring more top-flight animators into the profession. And it has during its 47 years, though for a long time almost all were men. Now, nearly three-quarters of CalArts' more than 250 animation students are women, and there's a new goal: Ensure that when they land jobs, they get to draw female characters reflective of the real world and not just the nerds, sex bombs, tomboys or ugly villains who proliferate now. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — The California Institute of the Arts was created partly by Walt Disney's desire to bring more top-flight animators into the profession.

In this Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, photo, Sam Lane looks at the artwork "Female Figures" prior to the Animated Women symposium at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, Calif. The California Institute of the Arts was created partly by Walt Disney's desire to bring more top-flight animators into the profession. And it has during its 47 years, though for a long time almost all were men. Now, nearly three-quarters of CalArts' more than 250 animation students are women, and there's a new goal: Ensure that when they land jobs, they get to draw female characters reflective of the real world and not just the nerds, sex bombs, tomboys or ugly villains who proliferate now. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) © The Associated Press In this Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, photo, Sam Lane looks at the artwork "Female Figures" prior to the Animated Women symposium at California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia, Calif. The California Institute of the Arts was created partly by Walt Disney's desire to bring more top-flight animators into the profession. And it has during its 47 years, though for a long time almost all were men. Now, nearly three-quarters of CalArts' more than 250 animation students are women, and there's a new goal: Ensure that when they land jobs, they get to draw female characters reflective of the real world and not just the nerds, sex bombs, tomboys or ugly villains who proliferate now. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

And it has during its 47 years, although for a long time almost all were men.

These days, nearly three-quarters of the elite Southern California school's animation students are women.

Even so, most of the female characters drawn for today's cartoons still fall into a handful of stereotypical categories: nerdy sidekicks, ugly villains or, occasionally, the beautiful-beyond-belief hero.

To break that pattern, CalArts has been hosting an annual "Animated Woman Symposium on Gender Bias."

Participants say they've discovered that as more women move into animation, they must not push just to draw popular characters. They must strive to become the people who create those characters and direct the films starring them.

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