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Check Out Mia Renee Johnson’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mia Renee Johnson.

Hi Mia Renee, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’ve been obsessed with cartoons since the 90’s, back when Sailor Moon and X-Men would come on Saturday mornings. I eventually got way more into anime and started drawing my favorite characters. It was just a hobby for a long time, I had a late realization that I could actually work in Animation.

When I realized that I pursued illustration in college, where I received my BFA from Cal State Long Beach. While attending CSULB, I started vending at Comic Cons and got really into Cosplay. I created a collective called Unicornatopia with my friend and colleague Katie Fleck. We collaborate on unicorn themed art and cosplay accessories. We have been creating exclusive posters and merch for LA Comic Con for the past decade.

Being passionate about cons doesn’t pay the bills unless to travel and go all year so it’s more of a side passion of mine. I started making weekly webcomics a few years ago after graduating college, they were very therapeutic for me while I worked a job I hated to pay the bills… I spent years applying to animation jobs with no response. My portfolio wasn’t where it needed to be for the jobs I wanted. I kept taking animation classes and working on my portfolio and eventually, I got offered to test for Tuca and Bertie Season 2 at ShadowMachine created by Lisa Hanawalt. I am currently the Prop Designer for the show and it’s been truly a dream. It’s my first full-time job in Animation and I never want it to end. The team behind the show is amazingly talented and I get to work from the comfort of my own home. It’s my Brightside of 2020 and will be a bright side of 2021 when it airs.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No, it has not been a smooth road. Soooo many struggles. Haha But I got here eventually, which wouldn’t have happened if I gave up. Just last month I was in a bad car accident that almost killed. me. I was hit by a driver without a license who totaled my car and tried to run. I’m still not fully recovered and am dealing with it all. Good thing I work from home and was able to get through it.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a Designer and Comic Artist. I specialize in Illustration for Animation and Comics. I am most proud of working on Tuca and Bertie season 2, I was already such a super fan of the show. What sets me apart from others is my unique perspective. I’ve never seen anyone like me doing the job that I want. I’ve never seen a Black female with a syndicated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Animated series, and I’m working on getting there.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Networking in Animation has been super important and has changed everything for me. WIA, Women in Animation is Amazing. They put on events, send out resources, job links, you name it, BWA, Black Women Animate is incredible. They have an annual boot camp that focuses on being a WOC in Animation, there are workshops and professionals you get to sit down and talk with at big studios. I made friends with some women I met at their event two years ago. We all wanted to work in Animation when we met and we all are all now working in Animation. I heard about the Tuca and Bertie test because of these friends. Black N Animated, they focus on shedding light on Black creatives in Animation and have useful resources.

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