Tran is an award-winning producer of stop-motion and live action animation. Her first animated feature, "Anomalisa," was nominated for an Oscar this year. She has also worked on a number of animated shows including "Robot Chicken," "Mary Shelley's Frankenhole," "Moral Orel” and "Titan Maximum.” This Q&A is part of a special series examining diversity in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Read more profiles here.
Was there a person in the industry that looked like you and made you think that directing animated movies could be a career?
Jennifer Yuh, director of “Kung Fu Panda 2.” She really inspired me, being a female and being Asian and directing a feature film at a big studio. She’s smart, talented, creative and she probably worked really hard to get to that level. I wanted to be like her. I still do.
At what point did you know your race or gender was impacting your career, positively or negatively?
I think I have felt more adversity being a woman than being Asian. As a female, the moment I show any emotion aside from happiness I am immediately labeled as emotional. If I am firm or aggressive about something then I am labeled as a [expletive], bully or the C-word. It’s a double standard.
What was your reaction to #OscarsSoWhite — the lack of nominees of color and the resulting conversation?
I felt really disappointed. It’s 2016 and I can’t believe that this is still an issue. I’m glad that this is a topic of conversation. I am really appalled about the whitewashing of Asian roles. This is a hot topic now and everyone has an opinion, but it is all talk until we see some action.
Any ideas for solutions to #OscarsSoWhite?
If the problem is content without diversity, then let’s make it, which is easier said than done. The academy can sponsor a program to find compelling stories, created by people with diverse backgrounds. I also think they need to reach out to the community and find individuals outside of the organization to offer a fresh perspective.
What would being in the film academy, if you ever got the invite, mean to you?
Given the circumstances with so few Asian Americans being represented, I would be honored. It can be interpreted as the academy taking steps towards change.
What’s your favorite movie?
“The Wizard of Oz.” My favorite part of the movie is when Dorothy opens the door and we see munchkin land for the very first time. The vibrant colors almost sear my eyeballs. I can almost feel a soft breeze on my skin every time I watch it.
What has been your proudest career moment?
I grew up in an immigrant family. I am one of nine. My family has no idea what I do. On the afternoon after the nominations were announced [this year], my sister texted me. She saw the [“Anomalisa”] nomination and could not believe it, and in that moment, I finally felt some validation.