Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassie Soliday.
So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in rural Southern Illinois- the towns were so small that they called the area by the county name and our school was Pre-K through 12th grade. It was a pretty lonely area and once after-school cartoons ended on the only channel we got on our TV antenna, I would wander around outside. I lived on a farm, but we really didn’t grow anything except hay which my dad sold to other farmers and also fed to our horses. I’m one of those kids who actually had a pony! Because everyone lived so far apart in this rural area, there was plenty of empty land or farmland to explore. I had a wild imagination and would often carry a notebook with me to write poetry or stories and draw while walking around. It was sometimes boring, sometimes awesome. But I always loved animation, and all the games I would play while wandering around were typically me pretending to be or play with the characters I watched on TV.
Later, I lived with my mom in the Chicago area and went to college at Columbia College Chicago for Film & Video, concentrated in Animation. I also studied comedy writing, improv, acting, and sketch comedy at Second City as well as the Annoyance. This was a real crazy time for me because I was also performing which I never thought I would ever do in my life! I feel like I really blossomed and challenged myself in Chicago. I gathered so much confidence, I had the audacity to move to California when I landed an unpaid internship at Nickelodeon. Although unpaid, it was invaluable the connections I made and the education I received from talking to so many talented professionals. After that internship, I was prepared to take any job necessary to stay here because working in Animation was cooler than I had ever dreamed it would be.
I ended up getting a job at Disneyland as a hostess, and soon after, getting hired as a Sketch Artisan in Off the Page which was a wonderful job that I loved very much! During this time, I continued meeting professionals for coffee and asking them about their journey as well as if they had any advice for me on mine. Many people were more than happy to speak with me as long as they had the time to give. Simultaneously, I had been going on many interviews for a production assistant and wasn’t getting hired. Either producers would say I had no experience or that I had too much (because I also worked as a stage manager in theatre while in Chicago and been a freelance production assistant on quick commercial gigs!). But finally, one of those producers who didn’t hire me recommended me to one of their colleagues working on another show and I had my first paid job at a major studio! And it was as a production coordinator!
It was at this time that I realized a few things… 1.) all the animation or creativity podcasts that I had been listening to for years rarely had women on; 2.) thinking back to my History of Animation class in college, there was only one or two women named among many, many men, and barely any focus was put on them; 3.) there weren’t many female artists on my new show; 4.) thinking back to all the professionals I had spoken to, most of them were men! It was then that I thought about making a podcast that focused on women working in Animation- a podcast that I wish I had when I was in college, with interviews to aspire to and be inspired by! I called it “Ink and Paint Girls” because that’s what the ladies who worked in the Ink and Paint Department at Disney were labeled and it somehow stuck, but ultimately these women went on to work in Editorial, Producing, Animation, and many other departments! So, it was meant to be cheeky and represent where we start and how we evolve as creatives. I have to really thank my friend, Amy Rogers, who hosted for a bit in the early days with me. She believed in the idea and my ability to make it happen! Over the years, I’ve collected interviews when I’ve had the time, but pursuing my own career in Animation takes time, too, so the podcast is more like a living archive.
With Ink and Paint Girls, we hope to encourage life/work balance, self-care and develop a community of women supporting women. We have a few types of episodes, mostly interviews, but are working on more parenting topics, and women of animation history episodes.
Listening to Animation professionals discuss their struggle, hustle, and eventual success has been motivating to me, and I love passing these conversations along to the listeners. Through these chats, we’ve discussed the fears and realities of working in a gig-to-gig economy which has felt like a relief to know that everyone goes through dry spells here and there as well as learn how to combat the depression that can sometimes follow. Interviewees often share their personal philosophies for how to stay viable and how continuously improving their craft can calm your worries. I hope that the podcast can help listeners level up their careers, or at least feel like they are not alone in this crazy industry. Get pumped and stay motivated for the long journey ahead!
Recently, Rebecca Nelson and I posted an episode about Millicent Patrick, the designer of the Gill-man from “The Creature of the Black Lagoon” and Katya Bowser is helping me produce episodes interviewing parents working in Animation (mothers and fathers). Once in a while, I have guest hosts to keep the questions fresh. I’m very thankful to those who volunteer along the way and/or help when they can! Shout out: Rebecca Nelson, Katya Bowser, Breana Williams, Val Petrone, Sam from Animation Heroine, Danielle Wieczorek, and all of the guests who have come on the show thus far!
A few years, studios, shows, and interviews later, the podcast is still going and I’m now a staff writer on the Disney Junior show “Puppy Dog Pals.” And I’m loving it! It’s everything I hoped it would be and more.
Has it been a smooth road?
Nope! It goes between beautiful black asphalt to rocky gravel and dirt, sometimes pretty quickly!
After watching “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Toy Story” as a kid, I knew two things: I wanted to tell and draw stories, and to work in Animation. I’m not sure how I realized it was a job, but I assume it was because I was the only kid I knew who loved to watch the credits go by. So, my passion for animation and storytelling really propels me through the tougher days. I’m an introvert, but I’m very ambitious and often disregard self-care in order to have even more time to do and make cool things. (Don’t do this! I’m working on improving this habit, myself.)
In saying that, I will now tell you that I’ve worked multiple jobs, some at the same time! I’ve worked in retail as a bookseller, as a barista at three coffee shops as a freelance production assistant for commercial shoots in a shady part of Chicago from 6pm to 6am, as a stage manager and prop designer at multiple theatre companies in Chicago, as an administrative assistant intern at Second City, back of house intern at the Annoyance, as a photographer at a department store photography studio… on the other side in weirdo-land once moving to CA, I was paid to measure shirts on someone’s living room floor while she ate a salad and watched me. There’s some weird gigs out there and sometimes it takes working a lot of these to get by. So, you can imagine that working on samples scripts and my portfolio in order to get my dream job was even harder to fit into my schedule and life!!!
And along that path, having to discover that no matter what job I have, I am an awesome person and have worth. I know I’m not the only person out there who was struggled with self-worth when you don’t have the job you’re dreaming of! I wanted it so bad that I thought there was something wrong with me for a long time, even though I’ve gotten to have some really fun jobs along the way.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m a writer, auto-bio cartoonist, and podcaster. I’m probably best known for my podcast, “Ink and Paint Girls” which I mentioned earlier, as well as my diary comics that I post on Instagram. I love telling stories and then sharing them in the medium that I feel they would be best told in– usually focusing on what resources I personally have access to. I wrote a short play this summer that ran at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and I felt that was the best way to tell that particular story at this time. Maybe it’ll turn into something else later, but it’s most important to me to take action with ideas than to stir in them for years and lose the energy and passion that made them worth telling in the first place. In saying that… not everything I do is amazing. I focus on “done is better than perfect.” If I make a lot of things, then one day, I’ll make something great because of repetition and practice. That’s my current motto, and I’m sure it will evolve as I grow as a creative! I think I might be most proud that I try my best to get out of my own way and just make things.
As I mentioned before, I’m currently a staff writer on Disney Jr’s “Puppy Dog Pals.” I’m so glad that this was my first staff role because the team is amazing! In this setting, and probably the larger setting of the industry, the thing that sets me apart from the other writers, is that I’m super weird and I lean into it, because I can only be who I am. I’m tired of trying to change who I am so why not just be me x20? I love being weird, quirky, and having a dark sense of humor that’s also full of heart. I try to mix those all together when I write and make stuff.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I really loved Chicago, so it took a while to fall in love with Los Angeles, actually. Chicago was easier to navigate with the train and bus system. I took it everywhere! So moving out here and suddenly having to drive all the time and sit in traffic really stunk. I kinda hated LA. I missed my family. I had no friends. I worked all the time. But damn, the silhouettes of palm trees against the beautiful sunsets sure were beautiful while I sat in traffic.
But then, I slowly acclimated to the area. I got used to the roads, starting listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my long commute to work at Disneyland from Burbank, and I made a friend who eventually became my boyfriend and now he’s my husband! He absolutely loves Los Angeles and seeing the city through his eyes and excitement really turned me around. I loved everything about California, except LA, and now I might love LA more.
The city is sprawling with so many different neighborhoods and types of people which means there’s tons of art and theatre to take in! I got back into theatre and started seeing plays again. I found out that Second City is also in Hollywood with a bunch of people who’ve moved out here from Chicago to pursue the entertainment biz just like me. I feel like any artistic endeavor you want to do can be done out here. Everyone is telling their story out here in some way and that is so fricken’ exciting!
- Website: www.casassy.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cassiesoliday
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InkandPaintGirls/
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/cassiesoliday
- Other: www.inkandpaintgirls.com
- Other Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inkandpaintgirls/
- Other Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/inknpaintgirls
Art and Podcast Logo by Cassie Soliday; Photo by Rachel Luna