Director, Animaniacs, Warner Bros. Animation/Hulu
Next time someone tells you that you’ve got to go to one of the usual prestigious schools to get a career in animation, remember the example set by brilliant director Katie Rice, who is currently working on the new Animaniacs series from Warner Bros. Animation. The Marin County native tried to get into CalArts twice, but when she didn’t get in the second time, she decided to move to L.A. and look for animation work. “I failed, so I moved back home, saved up money from waitressing, and then tried again! The second time stuck,” says Rice.
Rice, who has worked on shows such as El Tigre and DC Super Hero Girls and the feature The Book of Life, says she has always been in love with all things Disney as long as she has been conscious. Then, she adds, “But when I was about nine years old and the original Nicktoons debuted, I knew I wanted to make art like that myself!
“My first job was inking traditionally and doing other odd jobs at a small independent studio,” Rice recalls. “That was about 20 years ago, when inking was still done on paper!” Now that she’s working on the reboot of Animaniacs, she finds the enthusiasm and the collaboration of her team quite wonderful. “This is one of the best crews I’ve worked with,” she admits. “I feel like I’m surrounded by super-talents who are also incredibly nice. It’s very inspiring and makes coming into work easy, despite the challenges of working on a show as big as this.”
Of course, adapting to the cinematic quality of a Spielberg-produced cartoon has its own challenges. “It can be a bit intimidating, especially for someone who is used to working in a flatter, more traditional comedic style. But overcoming artistic challenges is extremely rewarding, and I do feel like working on Animaniacs has allowed me to level up as an artist!”
When asked about her idols, Rise says, “I have always looked up to Lynne Naylor, whose drawings are just so full of life and appeal, and Mary Blair for being so talented that she was impossible to ignore, even during the ink-and-paint-girl days. Right now, my biggest idols are everyone who’s doing their best to make our industry more inclusive, kind and safe.”
Her future plans include working to help other people’s shows, but one day Rice hopes to run her own productions and telling her own stories. “I’ve got a lot of them in me!” she says, and we know she’s not kidding.