Pixar Animation Studios celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8) by showcasing several outstanding women who work at the famed Studio. The wonderfully diverse group of women, working in departments ranging from Production, Story Department, and Engineering, share their proudest moments while working at Pixar (as well as what character they relate to the most). Below is a list of all the stories which Pixar shared on their social media channels throughout the day — the message was strong enough that we couldn’t narrow them down, so we shared them all.
Deirdre Warin — “My proudest moment was when Toy Story came out because it was such a kitchen-table operation. Everyone working for years and years. ‘How are we gonna do this?!’ It was, ‘Just forge ahead.’ We had lots of hiccups and crises along the way. When it came out, I remember standing on Fillmore Street in the city with one of the technical directors. I had just happened to run into him on a Saturday. I was standing there, and a bus went along with Toy Story characters on the side. We were just staggered. To think that our secret was out. You know, here was this bus with our characters on the street! It was fantastic. Even now, it’s astonishing the impact that Toy Story had.”
Deirdre is the Manager of Department Feature/Senior Manager of Production and notably was Pixar’s second female hire.
Ana Ramirez — “When I first applied to CalArts, I had only been drawing for six months, so obviously I didn’t get in. And then I took a year off and moved from my home in Mexico to France to go to art school there and my parents were really supportive. They were like, ‘If this is what you want, we’ll give you the time to develop this skill because we know you’re just starting.’ A lot of people in my family are very traditional, and they were talking like, ‘She’s just living the life and not doing anything.’ But I’m thankful my parents believed I was doing something that would become something good. My dad’s a feminist. He’s always supported my sister and me. A lot.”
Ana Ramirez is a Designer within the studio.
Stephanie Pham — “It kind of evolves as we grow, but right now, I’d say I relate most to Helen Parr. She’s a no-nonsense mom, and I’m a mom now. In the film, she’s pretty stern with her kids, but she’s also very loving and she puts her family first. Plus, she has superpowers that ultimately save the day. As a working mom, you’re stretched in many different directions, and sometimes it takes some superhero skills to keep everything together.”
Stephanie Pham is a Manager of Equity & LTI Programs.
Kim Diaz — “We recently hired a VP of Inclusion Strategies, and that is very near and dear to my heart because being a woman from the islands and not really seeing a lot of people like me be in this business—I’m from Guam, it’s a little, tiny island in the South Pacific—and being able to recruit for that role, I learned so much. I got to interact with Jim Morris and Ed Catmull and a lot of the senior leadership team here on a topic I was so passionate about. That, to me, was my proudest moment, of being able to show people that anything is possible and you can do this regardless of where you’re from, how small of a town or island or wherever it is in the world. That is one of my proudest moments.”
Kim Diaz is a Manager of Recruitment & Talent Outreach.
Hayley Iben — “Pixar made the first computer graphics movie. I remember watching Toy Story in the theater when I was in high school and it was this really incredible thing. I just liked the visual aspects of computing. I’m not as artistically inclined for drawing as much as I try to be, but if I can program something in the computer to do that, then I’m able to contribute my artistic passion in that way.”
Hayley Iben is a Lead Software Engineer.
Aphton Corbin — “Piper got an Oscar and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s great!’ And there was a moment when I came into work and the director Alan Barillaro and producer Marc Sondheimer brought the Oscar in to pass around and share with everyone at the studio, and it was just kind of a reminder like, ‘Oh that’s right, you work at the place that just won an Oscar.’ I knew that Oscars were won, but actually seeing one come in and know I work at this company too now was a surreal moment for me.”
Aphton Corbin is a Story Artist.
Serena Martinez Dettman — “I suppose the obvious answer to which female Pixar character I identify with is Sally because she is a lawyer. She’s holding down the law in Radiator Springs, but she’s also a totally good person. She’s not portrayed as a villain despite being a lawyer, so it’s just really refreshing to see. People might say that we’re the fun police, but I prefer ‘fun chaperone.’ It’s always a proud moment when a production can come to us and say, ‘We want to do this’ and it’s some great idea, it’s brilliant, and we figure out a way to make that happen.”
Serena Martinez Dettman, Legal Counsel
Jessica Wan — “Why I went into mechanical engineering and why I like my current job so much is the idea of problem-solving. It’s really fun and really interesting. I genuinely believe that most any problem can be solved, regardless of what you think you know. Sometimes young women especially or young people without too much experience—I’m speaking like I’m really old—limit themselves. They get a problem and think that they don’t have the experience or the know-how and that there is no way they can do it. But actually, I think we know more than we realize, and if you don’t, take advantage of all the resources out there and ask questions. Stick with it, believe in it, and if you want it, you can do it! Yep, clichés galore!”
Jessica Wan is a Media Systems Associate Engineer.
Anna Wolitzky — “If I had to pick a female Pixar character I relate to the most, it would definitely be Roz. Roz likes to have things organized and orderly, which is something that’s very important to editors. She comes across in a way that you’re not quite sure what she’s up to, but in the end she’s quietly running things from behind the scenes. Editors like to be behind the scenes. I do like Roz does. She’s one of my favorites.”
Anna Wolitzky is an Associate Editor.
Sureena Mann — “What I like about Merida is that she’s a girl that likes to do things like ride her horse, shoot bows and arrows, play with her siblings, and pal around with her dad, but there are expectations that she has to live up to. I was raised the same. I didn’t have to fight my parents, but there is an expectation for somebody like me coming from the culture I come from. My mom is the oldest daughter, and my dad is the oldest son, and I’m the oldest kid, so when we lived in England, I had a particular role that I had to fulfill. I was the responsible one. I had a number of cousins, and my role was to be a good role model to them. To my family, a role model for a girl was to go to school, learn how to make roti and daal, find a husband, and have a family. Coming to America opened that up for me. What I like about Merida is that she kept at it. She messed up along the way, but in the end, she came to this realization where she understood what her role was and decided to inhabit it, but according to her own terms. I feel the same way. I still have those feelings of responsibility that I was taught growing up. I feel very responsible for my crew’s career paths and for the work that we put out. With Merida, I feel that the similarities between myself and her that there is something inside that you cannot fight. Your true nature. There is the thing you are taught and then there’s who you are, and that was her battle.”
Sureena Mann is a Director of Marketing and Home.