Actor, presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star Ore Oduba has been announced as a celebrity judge in a brand new and unique initiative, which has launched to find new talent in the animation industry. The Secret Story Draw is dedicated to placing illustrators and animators from underrepresented ethnic groups in some of the country’s best animation studios.
Some of the UK’s most renowned children’s writers have also joined the project and have provided an anonymous story written exclusively for the initiative, where budding animators and illustrators are invited to bring the stories to life. The author of each story will remain anonymous until the winners are revealed in June.
Announced writers contributing stories include: Keith Chapman (Paw Patrol, Bob The Builder), Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Runaway Robot, Millions,Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth), Gillian Cross (The Demon Headmaster), Adam Redfern (The Adventures Of Paddington), Dan Freedman (Jamie Johnson, Unstoppable), Swapna Haddow (Dave Pigeon!), M.G. Leonard (Beetle Boy), Mark Lowery (Socks Are Not Enough, Charlie and Me and The Roman Garstang Series), Will Mabbitt (The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones), E.L. Norry (Son of the Circus), Sam Sedgman (The Highland Falcon Thief) and Chitra Soundar (Where is Gola’s Home).
Ore Oduba said: “I’m so excited to be a part of this ground-breaking campaign, and amongst such illustrious company too! There is so much amazing, undiscovered talent out there, people who might otherwise never have had the opportunity, and I’m so glad The Secret Story Draw gives them the platform to show it. Having started my career in children’s television I know how important a launchpad this could be for so many underrepresented creatives. I can’t wait to get started!”
Ore joins the judging panel which includes: Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Jamila Metran (Director of Sony Kids Network), Elliott Palmer (Producer and consultant, King Bert Productions), Steve Harding-Hill (Creative Director at Aardman Animations), Tom Beattie (Head of Kids and Family, Tiger Aspect), Tom Box (MD, Blue Zoo), Tom Brass (Creative Director, Jellyfish Pictures), Jackie Edwards (Head of Fund, Young Audiences Content Fund – BFI), Louise Bucknole (VP Kids Programming UK & Ireland, Nick Network and Milkshake!), Adam Campbell (Director of Product at Azoomee), Ted Ty (Global Head of Character Animation at DNEG), Laura Henry-Allain MBE (creator CBeebies characters JoJo and Gran Gran), Jodie Hodges (literary agent for children’s authors, United Agents), Darren Nartey (Acquisitions Manager for all acquired Films and Kids content, ITV) and Selom Sunu, (Illustrator and Character Designer).
The Secret Story Draw organisers have recruited a stellar panel from the television and film industries, with winners earning themselves a paid internship with one of the top animation studios in the UK. Internships will run for at least three months and will be based in the studio or remote working as agreed by the participating studio. Current studios taking part include: Aardman, Blue Zoo Animation Studio, DNEG, Factory, Fourth Wall, Jellyfish Pictures, Ltd, King Bert, Hopster, Moonbug, Locksmith and Flex.
The Secret Story Draw is in association with various industry partners including the DCMS-funded Young Audiences Content Fund, which is managed by the BFI and supports the creation of unique and distinctive content for young audiences, BAFTA Kids, The Children’s Media Conference, ScreenSkills and Macmillan Children’s Books.
While entrants are working and honing their skills inside one of these industry leading companies, they’ll also have access to a established industry mentor, who will nurture them to make the most of the opportunity and help them make decisions about their future growth and direction.
Furthermore, a series of money-can’t-buy creative workshops will be offered by industry insiders dedicated to giving entrants the inside track on everything they need to know to take their talent to the next level. Mentors, sessions and speakers will be announced in due course.
Illustration and animation in the children’s media industry still has some way to go to truly offer meaningful employment opportunities for underrepresented ethnicities. The Secret Story Draw’s mission is to ensure that the people creating content for young people in this country are as representative as possible.
For further information, details on how companies or individuals can support or fund the initiative and guidance on how to enter please visit www.thesecretstorydraw.org.