As Black History Month comes to a close, we’d like to recognize the leaders, innovators, changemakers, and groundbreakers here at Pixar who exemplify Black excellence. Their creativity and leadership, as well as the dedication they put into their jobs every day, is what helps propel Pixar forward. We celebrate you — as well as those who paved the way before you — this month and every day.
Name: Britta Wilson
Title: Vice President, Inclusion & Outreach
Pixar character you relate to most: Joe Gardner, Soul
Professional Advice: Do it. Be a champion. Be a bridge builder. Be an advocate. Be an amplifier of voices that have been silenced. Be willing to learn and be willing to be corrected. This journey needs all of us. You can lead from any seat.
Name: Bree Jenkins
Title: Leadership Development Associate, Pixar University
Pixar character you relate to most: Joy and Sadness, Inside Out
What does Black History Month mean to you?: Black History Month is a time of gratitude and community. It's restorative, as we acknowledge all of those who came before us — not only historical figures but our familial ancestors — and take refuge in their work. I take inspiration from the past to figure out what narratives I want to be told about my community in the future.
Professional Advice: My advice for those trying to find their way is to ask yourself what problem you want to solve. Align that problem with your values and passions. And please, let people help you along the way.
Name: Jasmine Derry
Title: Technical Director, Effects (Production on Luca)
Pixar character you relate to most: EVE, WALL•E
What does Black History Month mean to you?: To me, Black History Month is about celebrating Black people, Black accomplishments, and most importantly, Black joy. Our history involves a lot of pain and hurt and cruelty, but it's so much more than that. Within the Black experience lies culture, artistry, beauty, and uniqueness that deserves to be celebrated! Being a Black woman is a struggle in many ways, but I wouldn't trade it for anything, because it gives me the unique ability to inspire others and show them that they cannot just exist, but thrive in any field.
Professional Advice: Any dream worth having will take many years of consistently putting in hard work, work that will feel endless, sometimes even fruitless. But those years are going to pass anyways, so why not point yourself in the direction you want to go and see where you land?
Name: John LeGrande
Title: Animation Technical Supervisor
Pixar character you relate to most: Ian Lightfoot, Onward
What does Black History Month mean to you?: Black History Month is a time to highlight and celebrate Black excellence, past and present, with the goal of inspiring future excellence. It's a time to honor the struggle, strength, and work of our ancestors. It's also a time to broaden the awareness of our history and our accomplishments.
Professional Advice: It's been immensely beneficial for me to remain curious about many different things. Being able to make connections between different areas of knowledge has helped me solve problems in a variety of domains. Staying curious has also led me to meet a number of interesting, brilliant, and kind people that I now consider a part of my professional network. So, stay curious and build your professional network!
Name: Helen Hawaz
Title: Assistant Editor
Pixar character you relate to most: Barley, Onward
What does Black History Month mean to you?: Black history is 24/7/365. Black history is American history and world history. During my time in elementary through high school, a lot of the material we covered was [just] a glossing-over, and only a fraction of the story. So much of the real learning for me happened in adulthood, and in understanding the intersectional space I occupy as an Ethiopian who is an American citizen. This month is a time to expand on Blackness, explore more historical material, and be exposed to new Black writers and thinkers across the globe.
Professional Advice: Take risks, even when you feel you can’t afford to. They don’t need to be [huge], but they need to have enough weight to expand what you think you’re capable of. Whether it’s your job, your career, your relationships, where you live, or how you do your hair. And never forget that time is our only true currency.
Name: Kayla D. Harriel
Title: Coordinator, Inclusion & Outreach
Pixar character you relate to most: 22, Soul
What does Black History Month mean to you?: I celebrate Black history all year long, but Black History Month is still very important to me. It's a time where we highlight Black culture and celebrate significant achievements from Black men and women that are often ignored or go unnoticed. It is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about our contributions throughout society and a chance to inspire and educate our youth.
Professional Advice: My interests and career goals have changed throughout the years, but I've learned to be content with the unknown and enjoy the journey. Even if you've applied for a job 100 times, continue to apply! Also, be open, authentic, and teachable.
Name: Staphon Arnold
Title: Content Specialist, Pixar University
Pixar character you relate to most: Frozone, The Incredibles
What does Black History Month mean to you?: Black History Month for me is a time to pause and reflect on how far we have come. It’s also a time to pay attention and learn new bits of history that you either may have forgotten or never knew.
Professional Advice: Follow your passions, wherever that may lead you, but also take time to reflect and try new things. You may find a new spark!