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10 Animators to Watch: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Chicken Run 2’ Artists Among 2023 Honorees

By Andrew Barker, Murtada Elfadl, Paula Hendrickson, Stuart Miller, Rafael Motamayor, Paul Plunkett

July 13, 2023

Variety and Nickelodeon are joining forces again for this year’s 10 Animators to Watch event in Los Angeles. The in-person cocktail party and awards ceremony on July 18 will celebrate rising creators in the animation space who are leaving their mark on the industry, as well as Nickelodeon Studios’ 25th Anniversary.

This year’s class of trailblazing storytellers includes Jeron Braxton (“Slime”), Daniel Fernandez Casas (“Migration”), Owen Dennis (“Infinity Train”), Carrie Hobson & Michael Yates (“Win or Lose”), Rachel Larsen (“The Tiny Chef Show”), Marie Lechevallier (“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget”), Abigail Nesbitt (“Pupstruction”), Olufikayo Ziki Adeola (“Iwájú”), Woodrow White (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”) and Jane Wu (“Blue Eye Samurai”).

Additionally, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will present “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson with the Creative Impact in Animation Directing Award.

The evening will celebrate the highly anticipated release of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” The latest installation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is released nationwide on August 2nd.

“The days when animation and its creators had to fight for the respect routinely granted to their live action peers is thankfully in the past. This year’s Variety honorees for Creative Impact in Animation Directing, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson have earned much deserved worldwide respect for their work,” said Variety’s EVP of Content Steve Gaydos. “And the 10 Animators to Watch step straight from the ranks of ‘fresh faces’ into the category of ‘must see’ artists with each of their breakthrough creations,” he added.

“We are so delighted to celebrate with Variety the incredible art of animation again and raise our glass to 10 outstanding creative voices whose craft helps drive our industry forward,” said Ramsey Naito, President, Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation. “A huge congratulations to all the artists on the list.”

Naito continued, “This is the year of the Turtles, and we are so proud of this animated theatrical masterpiece that is genuinely hilarious, has a heart of gold and displays next level creative excellence. Blending comic book realism with the spirit of New York City, we can’t wait to share it with the world!”

Read profiles below for each of Variety’s 2023 10 Animators to Watch, spotlighting the most exciting new voices in animation.