Business, Economics and Jobs

Animation inspires in South Africa


South African illustrator Chanelle Mentoor. (Image by Laura Lynch)

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Aardman Animations -- best known as the company behind the cartoon characters Wallace and Gromit -- is laying the groundwork for a new generation of South African animators. The studio recently created South Africa's first animation academy on the edge of Khayelitsha township.

There are 120 students currently attending the school, many coming from difficult and sometimes violent backgrounds.

"These people would never have these opportunities before hand because art is not regarded as a subject that is necessary for laborers," said Gary Kachelhoffer, the teacher in charge of the school.

Kachelhoffer, who spent years working in the white dominated animation industry, believed there was untapped talent in the townships.

Teachers like Kachelhoffer are helping students toward better lives through careers in animation. One student, 21-year-old Chanelle Mentoor, dreams of becoming South Africa's first black, female animator.

"I always see myself working in a studio. No matter what I’m doing, I’m working there. If you put your mind to it, if you visualize it every day, you gonna succeed. It’s gonna to happen for you."

Chanelle wants to use animated films to tell the stories of life in the township -- good and bad. It won’t be the light-hearted fare typical of cartoons, but she believes she can deliver powerful tales to the world.

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