Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, directed by Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman, won a Golden Globe as the year’s best animated feature. This accolade is right on par with Ramsey’s stellar trajectory in the animated world. In case you didn’t know, Ramsey is the first Black director of a major animated film.
Ramsey officially became the first African-American director of a major animated film in 2012 when he directed Dreamworks’ 3D-animated film Rise of the Guardians. Yes, you read that right–2012.
It’s unfortunate that such as statistic was only broken just a few years ago, but it’s also indicative of how racially skewed the animation industry actually is; not only do people of color suffer from an inability to rise in the ranks due to an old boys’ club, but women also experience the double tragedy of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. Just take a look at Pixar’s former head, John Lasseter, who was accused of harassing female animators at Pixar. The accusations led to Lasseter leaving Pixar.
In some ways, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse reflects how animation is beginning the slow process of change. The film itself is one of the few with a character of color, Miles Morales, at its center as well as a person of color in the director’s seat. Ramsey discussed the importance of Miles during his Golden Globes remarks.
“We all felt deeply the idea that anyone can have this kind of experience,” he said, referring to Miles representing how anyone can see themselves as the hero of their stories. “Anyone can share in this myth, be in this kind of legend, be this kind of hero.”