Success Story February 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm

She became the 1st Black woman to win an Oscar for animation, now she’s VP at Netflix

Abu Mubarik February 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm

February 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm | Success Story

Karen Toliver. Photo: Twitter/Sony

Karen Rupert Toliver is an American film producer who has worked as an executive at Walt Disney Animation Studios, 20th Century Fox Animation, and Sony Pictures Animation.

Toliver is widely known for her work as lead producer on Matthew Cherry’s “Hair Love.” “In ‘Hair Love,’ a young girl named Zuri wakes up one morning and attempts to style her hair in a way befitting the special occasion she excitedly prepares to attend. When it doesn’t quite go as planned, she turns to her father for help. Except he’s no expert either. But it’s OK. He learns,” the Los Angeles Times summarizes the short film.

The film producer has now transitioned to become the vice president of animated film at Netflix, according to Variety. She will begin her new role in March and report directly to Melissa Cobb, VP of the kids and family division. In her new role, the former Sony Pictures Animation executive vice president will be responsible for two to three animated features annually and will work alongside fellow animation VP Gregg Taylor.

“It has been an absolute dream working with Kristine Belson and her game-changing team at Sony Pictures Animation. The experience has been instrumental in shaping how I approach producing. Storytelling in animation continues to evolve and expand, and I am excited to join the team at Netflix to continue breaking new ground,” Toliver said, according to Variety.

“We are thrilled to welcome Karen to Netflix where she will be a key partner in creating our ambitious slate of animated feature films,” added Cobb. “An executive with exceptional passion for animation, Karen possesses a strong vision for the future of storytelling in the medium and we can’t wait to see it come to life.”

Prior to her current appointment, she was working as executive vice president of creative at Sony Pictures Animation (SPA). In that role, Toliver was in charge of recruiting key storytelling talent and discovering and acquiring new creative material and intellectual property aligned with Sony Pictures Animation’s vision including original concepts, books, comics, video games, shorts, websites, and toys, according to SPA.

At SPA, she also worked on major projects like the Oscar-nominated film “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” Her work as lead producer of “Hair Love” secured her an Oscar nomination, which she eventually won. The award made her the first Black woman to win an Oscar for animation.

Prior to joining SPA, Toliver worked with Blue Sky Studios animation house where she made her name. While at Blue Sky Studios, she worked on popular franchise films like “Ferdinand,” “Ice Age,” and “Rio.”

She also has 10 years of experience in production and development at Fox Animation where she supervised the production of the “Rio” film franchise and the latest three films in the “Ice Age” series, which grossed a combined $3.1 billion at the worldwide box office.

In addition, she led the original feature “Ferdinand,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, according to SPA. She also served as a production executive at Walt Disney Animation Studios on films such as “Brother Bear,” “Chicken Little,” and “Meet the Robinsons.”

While an assistant at Walt Disney Pictures, she worked on the “Mighty Ducks” franchise, SPA added.

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