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Check Out Miguel M. Fierro’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Miguel M. Fierro.

Hi Miguel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am an eccentric Latino story artist, writer, and director. In my free time, I enjoy creating animated content based on my upbringing. I also enjoy hanging out with my wife and kids at “home” because you know, pandemic. I grew up in Southern California during the 90’s. I was raised by a single mother and grandparents who immigrated from Mexico. My youth was spent traveling to Baja California, Mexico to visit family almost every other weekend. Growing up, I was exposed to many different cultures in Southern California. I personally was intrigued by the counterculture like skating, surfing, punk rock, DJ, hip hop, graffiti/ street art, etc. I was also drawn to the lowrider cars and the art movement and music that was embedded in the scene. I loved going to concerts in Los Angeles and hanging out at the beaches in Ensenada. I have gone on to graduate from CSUF’s animation program and have recently broken into the animation industry as a Production Assistant in the Story Department at Netflix Animation. Getting into the industry was not a walk in the park. As a person of color, I had to try even harder than most. 

My journey in the animation industry started when I decided to go back to school at the age of 26 because I was tired of working in jobs that I was not happy in. I knew I always loved film and wanted to learn more about it and thought of it as just a dream. I met my future wife during that time and she really motivated me to follow that dream. I had already received an associate’s degree in graphic design by that time and wanted to get my bachelor’s in animation and thought two more years in college wouldn’t be so bad. Wrong! Turns out the degree I originally received was not transferable because it was from one of those for profit colleges that was not accredited. So my butt went back to junior college and had to start from scratch. So I took all my classes that I needed and transferred to the school of my choice with an outstanding GPA. I was determined to get into the animation program at the school that I transferred too. That was not an easy task either. Turns out that the program was heavily impacted and I had to waitlist for a majority of the classes. I stuck around and got into the classes and showed my professors how much it meant to me. I wanted to be part of that world like Ariel in “the little mermaid”. During my time in school, I applied to every single internship under the sun and got rejected over a hundred times. I would get letters of recommendation written from professors, joined clubs, attended panel discussions, went to conventions and still no chance. That did not discourage me one bit because now I was married and expecting my first child to be born. I thought to myself, I don’t want my son to think of his dad as someone who gives up, so I dried my tears and picked myself up and kept going.

Unfortunately that same year that my son was born, I lost my grandfather to cancer. He was my best friend and role model. I knew I had to dig myself out of a hole again and kept at it. Every time I would stay up late to work on my portfolio, drawing storyboards and every time I would drive out hours for a networking event, I would dedicate it to my grandparents and mom who sacrificed so much for a better life for their family and all the people who believe in me. I had to stand up and rise to the occasion even on days where I was running on a few hours of sleep, from working, going to school and being a family man. I eventually graduated college and still had no luck getting my foot in the door. I remember questioning if I made the right choice by following this path. I ended up continuing to work at it and joined more organizations like W.I.A and LatinX in Animation. There I was able to meet people who were also trying to break in and meeting people who worked in the industry and would get great feedback. I remember being at a LatinX in Animation event at an art gallery in Chinatown listening to a talk about how this person who is also a Latino and now they direct movies and has had shows made. I thought to myself that if this person could do it, I can without a doubt do it too. It lit a fire under me, and started to create more content, went to more networking events, started going on interviews and even created a pitch for an animated show and pitched it to a studio.

Even with all that under my belt, I still had no luck landing my place in the world of animation. I remember the last interview that broke me down before I got my break. I remember thinking this is it, I’m a shoe in for this position, I have the education and work experience and I know all the history and content about this comic universe. Then got told that I was not chosen for the position. Oh man did that break my heart and confused me and oh did I cry. I felt like Ace Ventura when he was ugly crying in the movie pet detective. Then it happened. I was applying to places as usual and reaching out to people who might have email addresses to recruiters to follow up with. Out of nowhere an act of kindness occurred. A friend reached out to me and told me that they passed along my resume to the recruiters at Netflix where they worked. I was shocked that they were nice enough to do that for me. I remember them saying of course they did because they noticed my work ethic and determination. I cried again, haha but this time it was tears of joy because I got the job as a Story P.A. at Netflix. All that hard work was worth it. I am so happy working in this company and in this industry. I feel grateful to be where I am at today. The journey might have been insane with lots of twists and turns, but aren’t all good stories. If you are reading this as someone who is starting their journey into the animation industry, don’t give up and always be true to yourself. When you do make it, remember to pay it forward. Those acts of kindness due go a long way because you never know what that person can be going through. If you would like to support my dreams of becoming a Latino showrunner in the animation industry. Follow @cholosverse on Instagram. It’s an adult animated show I made mostly on my iPad and recorded all the voices from friends and family via zoom and google meet during the pandemic. Enjoy!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I had so many thrown my way, had to overcome them and kept going. Growing up, I was inspired by my family’s willingness to keep pushing forward and creating their own path by coming to the states. So many people forget about how hard it is for people to come here and adjust to a new country. I remember seeing my grandma go to classes to learn English at a late age. My grandpa would work long shifts and still made the time to come pick me up from school. My mom was a single mother raising three kids and still found time to give back to her community and become president of the rotary club. These were the influences I had growing up and without a doubt, I would make sure to have that same drive in whatever I put into and overcome those obstacles in my way.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a story artist and make music videos and animated content with my friends and family on my free time.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Family, Laughter, and Tacos.

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