February is Black History Month, and we're spending the next few weeks highlighting the amazing Black creators, influencers, voice actors, artists, and industry professionals who help make the anime community the incredibly special place it is. We had the pleasure of sitting down with three people who work in the anime industry and/or community and asked them about their experiences and what anime means to them.
You can read our previous articles in the series below:
- Week 1
- Week 2
Additionally, Crunchyroll will be donating to Concerned Black Men of Los Angeles, a non-profit dedicated to empowering the next generation of Black youth through education and mentoring.
This week we're featuring manga creator and business owner Jacque Aye, anime dub director Shannon D Reed, and comics artist David Crownson.
[Note: this interview contains minor mentions of mental health struggles and suicidal feelings]
How did you get into anime?
I got into anime as a youngin' watching Sailor Moon and Pokémon with my older brother when we shared a bedroom. After that, I fell off and fell into fantasy and sci-fi books. It wasn't until my late teens when my youngest brother found an interest in anime that I stepped back into the fandom. It was our way of bonding at first … until I became a little obsessed, ha.
How did you end up creating Adorned By Chi and Aduravibes?
I created Adorned by Chi at a time when I was feeling super down about myself. I didn't see many hyper-feminine, somewhat awkward, nerdy Black women online. So I created a business I desperately wanted to exist. When we pivoted into original characters it was for the same reason. I hadn't seen myself in characters growing up, and I wanted to create magical melanated beings that others could see themselves in.
Adura was birthed from a different need. I was feeling depressed, drained, and suicidal. I wanted to create a space to express my feelings and help others in whatever way I could. So I planned a self-care kit full of my fave products to help people struggling to develop nighttime routines.
You've recently become an author, can you tell us a little about your book?
My book is called The Magical Girl's Guide to Life, and it's a guidebook for grown-up magical girls struggling with monsters like anxiety, depression, and impostor syndrome. The book has worksheets, a mini-manga, and embarrassing personal stories all meant to help other magical beings embrace their power.
What about anime do you resonate with/love?
I love the celebration of the underdog! Usagi (Sailor Moon) is a bumbling cry-baby who's not so great at completing her homework, yet she still manages to save the day. Mob (Mob Psycho 100) is shy and reserved but wields great power when pushed to use it. Kotetsu (Tiger & Bunny) is an aging hero who's lost his spark, and yet, he's able to pull through and work together with his new partner. As a person who has always felt like a bit of an underdog thanks to my cry-baby nature and high anxiety, anime really empowers me to keep going.
Do you have any advice for people who want to make a career out of their love for anime?
I'd say to collaborate with your peers and just have fun! I know many of us were ostracized growing up, but we're in a magical space now where what we love is mainstream.
English dub director at Sentai Filmworks (Twitter)
How did you first get into anime?
My interest in anime started sometime around the mid '90s. I remember the first time I watched anime, I was flipping through the channels, and caught like the last five minutes of a really cool show that just reeled me in. I was so shocked by the art and level of detail. I had never seen anything like it before.
How did you first start working for Sentai Filmworks?
I actually started off as a video editor. Over time I became an ADR Director. Starting off, I had quite a bit of experience as an editor beforehand, so that is what I applied for. Before I began working there, I had worked a lot of freelance jobs through the years. Weddings, commercials, concerts, short films, you name it. I have directed, worked as a camera operator, writer, gaffer, grip, editor, etc. I even had a job repairing camera and lighting equipment at one point. Working in production is just something that I love, so when I began working there, I was very excited. Being able to create and collaborate is what makes me happy. Whether it’s on a film set, or recording amazing shows in a studio, every bit of it is an absolute joy.
What got you interested in ADR work?
I come from a film background, so working in the production field is nothing new to me. Since I was little, my passion was always to work in entertainment. I mainly wanted to direct and write. For me, creating and telling amazing stories was always the dream. As a kid, I was almost always glued to the TV watching movies, cartoons, and playing video games. Whenever I had free time, I loved coming up with story ideas and writing my own short scripts. When I turned 16, I got my first camcorder and computer. I spent a lot of time at the local library checking out books on film, editing, and camera operating. I tried absorbing as much information that I could. As I got older, I went to college still pursuing my passion, and got a BFA in Fine Arts for Digital Film and Video Production. During my time in college, ADR work was a part of my curriculum among many other things. I would have never guessed how big of an impact it would have on my life moving forward.
Do you have advice for people aspiring to join the anime industry?
Visualize your dream – There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big. If you can visualize it, who’s to say you can’t achieve it? The spark starts there.
Plan a path from where you are, to where you want to be – as cool as it is to see where we want to end up, it’s just as important to create a roadmap to get there. Everyone has their own path. There may be few or many steps to get closer and closer to the next area, but if you don’t map out how you plan to get there, you will always remain where you started.
PRACTICE YOUR CRAFT!!! – It doesn’t mater if you are starting off in your craft, or if you have been doing this for years. Always work to better your skills. Take classes, study your craft, research as much as you can about it. You are never too old or too skilled to stop learning. When moments of opportunity present themselves, you want to be ready for it.
Don’t give up on yourself – It may seem like a generic thing to say, but this is vital. Sometimes we can be our very own worst enemy. Sometimes we may feel like we are in over our heads. There may be times where we may feel overwhelmed, but it is so important to keep going. The hard work you put in will have a payoff. Remember, you are unique, you are talented, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to. You can do this.
How did you become interested in making comics?
I grew up as fan of comics. My Dad introduced me to Superman, X-Men,and Spider-Man. I loved the idea of telling stories through pictures, but couldn't draw on the level of a Jim Lee or Tom Grummet lol So I made funny comic strips about my friends and I . Sold them for 75 cents. I was very proud lol
What got you into anime?
I woke up one morning as a child. Started channel surfing. Stumbled onto DragonBall Z and was hooked ever since!
What about anime do you love/resonate with?
The kinetic action! Nothing beats it!
Do you have any advice for aspiring arsits who want to make their own comics?
Take it one day at a time. Start small. Keep an intimate circle of friends. Try to set aside three hours a day to be creative. The rest will fall into place!