Sueann Rochester, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Wild Child Animation has over 20 years experience in the animation industry. She’s worked with Cartoon Network, the BBC, and Disney, and is passionate about producing content for all ages as well as supporting women in the industry.
In this interview, Sueann shares what she enjoys about her career in animation, her advice to others in the industry, and why she believes in the importance of empowering women in the field.
- What have been the greatest highlights and lowlights of your career in animation?
Most of my highlights have revolved around the people that I’ve worked with. I love hiring new talent and seeing them grow and evolve. One of the others is when I worked on a big UK brand called Dennis & Gnasher and it was the first show my parents knew. They finally knew what I did for a living! Low points are usually when a show I’ve lovingly developed doesn’t get funded.
- What’s your role in Animated Women UK? What drove you to join this organisation?
After I came back to work from having my two daughters, I felt it was important for me to help make a positive change to the world that they are going to grow up in. I was asked to run the Scottish chapter of Animated Women UK and it seemed like the perfect place for me to start.
We started in May 2019 and we are already helping to grow and inspire the local industry. We are a small industry and we suffer from it being a very white middle classed male affair. We offer regular events for emerging talent but also networking events and sessions for inspiring female role models to share their stories.
It has made a positive impact already and I’m really excited about the year to come.
- Why is it important to empower and support women in the animation industry?
It’s important for us to change the old fashioned stereotypes of the roles that women are supposed to do. I think women tend to avoid certain technical roles as they are generally dominated by men. I think it’s essential to highlight successful women in those roles to show that anyone can do any job if they have the talent.
- What more can the industry at large be doing to support and empower women?
This is a really difficult one. In the UK there is a real push to make the industry more diverse but at the moment the applicants for the roles aren’t diverse. The educational institutions have a good 50/50 balance but after they graduate then the numbers vastly reduce. We’re not really sure where all of the women go! Our goal is to try and focus on students while they are still studying and inspire them to move in to more roles within the industry.
- What is the biggest challenge you see the animation industry facing in 2020?
The biggest issue within Scotland is to try and grow the overall industry and to start drawing in bigger projects and become more collaborative. We are certainly on our way to making this happen so it’s an exciting time. I have just set up a new studio in Stirling and we have a new TV series going into production next month so it’s a very big year for us!
- For those just starting their career or considering a career in animation, what’s your advice for making their first steps?
Work really hard, be passionate and meet as many people as you can. Networking is absolutely essential and ultimately you need to be nice. No matter how good a showreel is, you won’t get hired if you’re not a good person.
About the expert
Driven by a love of all things animated and a need to organise everyone, Sueann was always destined to be an animation producer. With almost 20 years of experience in long form TV production Sueann has worked with clients including Cartoon Network, Disney, the BBC and DC Thomson and produced BAFTA and EMMY nominated shows ‘Dennis & Gnasher’ and ‘Ask Lara’.
Her goal is to produce high quality story driven content for all ages.
When away from her desk, Sueann is usually found balancing on her head.