Meet One Of The Only Female Animation Directors In The Industry


Jenna Zona always knew she wanted to tell stories. How she would tell them, though, wasn't quite so clear. She began by creating comics and illustrating, always imagining that the characters she'd created were actually moving.

Then, while watching the credits scroll at the end of an animated movie she'd just watched, it all clicked. People get paid to do this, she thought to herself, and with that, she made the decision to pursue a Masters of Fine Art in animation.

Jenna Zona.

Not many universities offer this specialized program, but the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is one that's consistently recognized for its breadth of creative majors and, just as importantly, its ability to guide graduates into impressive careers. They also bring in speakers, guests, and professors who are legendary in their fields, and offer state-of-the-art technology used by real-world professionals.

“While I was there, I had a mental time limit to get a full-time job in the field, so I just worked really hard on every project handed to me and kept steering my boat in the direction of my goal," said Zona. “I asked my professors for advice — a lot — and they were all very supportive. When I started graduate school, I also told myself I would never pass by an opportunity because I have no idea if another one will come up. That's what I did, and that's how I got a job halfway through the program."

Jenna Zona Illustration

Today, Zona has animated and illustrated Emmy-award winning shows such as Archer, Chozen, and The League. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at SCAD, where she mentors future animators, she serves as the animation director at Tiny Monsters Study, which animates numerous TV shows, including the PowerPuff Girls!

Zona's success in this industry is particularly notable when you consider the statistics for women working in this field. It's no secret that there's a gender gap in the entertainment industry, but this is especially true for behind-the-scenes tech positions.

SCAD Animation Fest Summer 2017. Photo Courtesy of SCAD

According to WomenInAnimation.org, last year 97% of films did not utilize female sound designers, 79% did not use female editors, and 96% did not use female cinematographers. The natural jump is to say, "Well, women aren't pursuing these positions!" That assumption would be false. Roughly 60% of animation and art students are women, but only 20% of the creative jobs in the industry are actually held by women.

In that sense, Zona is an outlier and a true pioneer for females in this industry.

“Why do we read stories or bother getting to know each other? It's to hear about everyone else's experiences and perspectives, and see what's going on in the world for them," said Zona when we asked why she feels it's important for women to work in animation. “Wouldn't it be nice to see stories from multiple perspectives other than your own?"

There's no truer female perspective than a perspective from, well, a female.

Jenna Zona Illustration

“When I was a kid, I remember pretending to be 'Mario and Luigi' with my neighbor friend. He was Mario — clearly — and he said that I was Princess Peach and had to stand at the end of the room while he rescued me. I said, 'That's boring. How about I be Luigi?'"

When he said no, Zona stood at the end of the hallway for a few brief moments before running over to help him fight off the imaginary “bad guys." She insisted that she could play both roles, and he reluctantly agreed.

“It's stories like this that demonstrate why we need to see both genders represented," said Zona. “Because how would myself, or other children, know that it's okay for little girls to be Luigi, or know that it's okay to be Peach, too? Or, even better, know that you can be Peach and save Mario!"

That the animation industry has gone so long with a lopsided perspective of the human experience is unfortunate. With that said, Zona is paving the way and inspiring current and future students, along with peers who are also pursuing jobs in the field.

3 Min Read

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?