Toronto Animation Film Festival

Toronto Animation Industry Conference

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Where: Toronto Reference Library & Online

When: November 2-4, 2023

Previous Events:

Toronto Animation / VFX Job Fair

Trailblazing Women in Animation

Fri, Nov 3rd

1:15PM - 2:15PM

Epic Hall

Since the dawn of the animation industry, women have always played an integral role in helping to shape the creative vision and execution of various projects– and even more recently, many have become leaders in their field, paving the way for even more talented women! 

Join trailblazing female leads Deborah A. Anderson (BlkWmnAnimator), Marge Dean (Head of Studio at Skybound Animation, Women in Animation), Mindy Johnson (Animation Historian & Author), Sumira Dhawan (Head of CG, Redefine) and Shaleen Sangha (Vice President of Kids and Family Content at Boat Rocker Media) on Friday November 3rd at 1:45pm-2:45pm for a roundtable discussion about the challenges women have historically faced throughout the industry, the successes of women rising to positions of leadership within animation, and the work still yet to be done to help create opportunities for women entering the workforce (and become trailblazers themselves!)

We’re ecstatic to have such a wide and wonderful array of talented and awe-inspiring panelists and can’t wait to learn more!


Deborah A. Anderson, Animation Journalist/3d Modeler, Skybound Entertainment

Deborah Anderson has extensive experience in the animation industry as a 3D modeler. She started her career in Seoul, South Korea at Digital eMation modeling props, vehicles, and backgrounds on television shows such as Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Scooby-Doo, and The LeBrons. She's currently working as an Assistant Editor on Amazon Prime's Invincible. Deborah also is an animation journalist and has a YouTube channel, BlkWmnAnimator where she interviews animation professionals about their careers.


Marge Dean, Head of Studio, Skybound President, Women in Animation

Marge Dean is an Emmy®-winning producer/executive and as Head of Studio at Skybound Entertainment, she is responsible for the development and production of original animated content and is establishing a new production facility for the production of Skybound properties including Invincible for Amazon Prime.

Known for building studios and animation pipelines, Dean was responsible for the design or re-design of several studios including Columbia-TriStar TV, Warner Brothers Animation, Mattel’s Playground Production, Omation (Steve Oedekerk), Technicolor Animation and Wildbrain Entertainment. Prior to joining Skybound, Dean was the Head of Crunchyroll Studios —the largest anime streaming platform in the world— where she supervised production and development of Crunchyroll Original series premiering in 2020.

In 2014, a group of women led by Dean took over the non-profit advocacy group, Women in Animation (WIA), revitalizing it. Membership grew from 120 people to over 4500 in five years as well as a reach of over 18,000 animation professionals and students. Primarily powered by volunteers, WIA has grown to a world-class advocacy organization impacting the lives of creative women, transgender and non-binary people around the world.


Mindy Johnson, Author/Scholar/Filmmaker

Award-winning author, historian, filmmaker, educator, musician and more, Mindy Johnson’s creative accomplishments reflect the diversity of her talents and experience. A leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history, Mindy writes and speaks on early cinema, animation, women’s history, and creativity.

A recipient of the prestigious ASIFA-Hollywood June Foray "Annie" Award, given to individuals who've made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation. Mindy's honors also include the Academy Film Scholar Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences/Oscars.org, and the ASIFA–Hollywood AEF Grant, for continued research and writing on the contributions of the earliest women within our collective animated past. With several forthcoming volumes underway, Mindy's groundbreaking discoveries continue to cast light on the invisible narrative of women’s presence within the first century of the motion picture industry. Her latest landmark breakthrough is the discovery of Bessie Mae Kelley and her surviving films believed to be the earliest surviving hand-drawn animation, animated and directed by a woman, forever busting the myth of women no longer present at the dawn of the animation industry.


Sumira Dhawan, Head of CG, Redefine - Dneg

Sumira Dhawan is Head of CG, Animation for North America at ReDefine. In her current role, she brings her love of combining art and tech to develop and implement workflows for teams working in creative, technology, management and R&D. Based in Toronto, she joined ReDefine from Industrial Brothers where she also worked as Head of CG.

Sumira has spent her entire career in animation. She started as an animator and has worked in various departments in creative and technical roles for more than 15 years. Her resume includes roles at Awesometown Entertainment, Arc Productions, Nelvana, and DQ Entertainment, where she animated, supervised and led the development of impactful animated movies such as ‘Barbie: Star Light Adventure’ and ‘Elliot the Littlest Reindeer’, and animated television shows such as ‘Remy & Boo’, ‘Daniel Spellbound’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’.


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