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Variety Honors Director Carlos Saldanha, CalArts’ Maija Burnett at 10 Animators to Watch Event

Animators took the spotlight at Variety‘s third annual 10 Animators to Watch event held on Thursday evening at Quixote Studios in West Hollywood.

In addition to the “10 to Watch” (Arthur de Pins, Megan Nicole DongDorota KobielaKirsten LeporeKira LehtomakiDave MullinsJulia PottCarlos PuertolasCarlos Puertolas, and Nora Twomey), the event also recognized director Carlos Saldanha with the creative impact award, as well as Maija Burnett, CalArts’ director of character animationwho received the animation educator of the year award. Burnett said the title holds a special place in her heart as she follows in the footsteps of a long line of teachers.

Related Content Variety’s 2017 10 Animators to Watch

“Both of my parents are educators, so I followed in the family business,” Burnett told the crowd as she accepted her honor. “One childhood memory that I have is sitting them both down in our apartment and teaching them in front of a blackboard. I was probably five years old, so chalk on blackboard lead to pencil on paper, and just a love for the arts.”

Burnett went on to discuss the importance of education, especially in the arts, and honing in on the specific needs of students.“More than anything, I believe that teaching is about listening,” Burnett said. “It’s about listening to the needs of the students and it’s about encouraging and supporting the students to listen to the stories that they have in their hearts and that they have in their minds.”

Saldanha, meanwhile, discussed animation, which he said is rooted in storytelling.

“I do believe we all share one thing in common, which I always look for, and that’s the love of storytelling,” Saldanha said. “And that’s what animation is all about. We create fun characters, with great scenes, but at the end of the day we want to tell good stories.”

Guests gathered at a cocktail reception with drinks specifically crafted for this year’s event, such as the “slime-tini” — made with midori, tequila, and sweet & sour mix. Guests also nibbled on a myriad of hors d’oeuvres while mingling with the likes of Chris Viscardi, Nickelodeon senior VP of content development, and Fox Animation Studios president Vanessa Morrison. The celebration, presented by Variety and Nickelodeon Animation Studios, was decorated with custom Variety magazine covers drawn by the animators themselves.

(Pictured: Maija Burnett and Nickelodeon’s Chris Viscardi)

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