Get to know the 13-year-old who directed her own animation inspired by Michelle Obama

Ama Nunoo Sep 24, 2020 at 01:30pm

September 24, 2020 at 01:30 pm | Success Story

Ama Nunoo

Ama Nunoo | Staff Writer

September 24, 2020 at 01:30 pm | Success Story

Photos: Impact Magazine

Why did it have to take so long for a 13-year-old to find a crew to work with her on her debut animated film? Apparently, no one took her seriously in the beginning because of her age but that should not have been the case. Little girls can do big things too and those who took a chance on Kalia Love Jones soon came to realize that.

Jones uses her maiden animation film, “Power of Hope”, to remind every young adult that it is okay to have big dreams and still pursue them regardless of one’s present circumstances. The inspirational film is aimed at empowering women.

“It didn’t seem like a lot of people wanted to work with a 13-year-old, so finding people took a really long time,” Jones said. “We had to email people and go out to colleges.” About a dozen people responded to her and were willing to go forth with production and they went all in.

Most young adults are in the “figuring out what my purpose is” stage of their lives and some often give up just when they are about to strike gold. It is even worse for those who face extra difficulties along their journey.  

Jones’ animated film is about an ambitious young woman who was at the verge of giving up on her dreams because her mother was ill, however, the words of Michelle Obama was her motivation to keep going for gold.

“It’s about a girl who is trying to become an architect, but as she’s trying to reach her goal, a bunch of obstacles are getting in her way, so she tries to overcome those obstacles to reach her goal,” Jones said. “I wanted to show the film through animation because it felt like the best way to engage people my age, but I also really love animation.”

The Santa Clarita resident is not your average 13-year-old. She is a trained gymnast with eight years of experience under her belt who juggles lots of different things: schoolwork, piano lessons, district Honor band first chair and most certainly filmmaking.

It only takes one who is committed to achieving her dreams to be able to handle this like a pro. Jones funded the majority of the production by herself. She worked odd jobs, recycled for family and friends, and saved her earnings to produce her film.

Her family is her biggest motivation and support system and she takes inspiration from women in the film industry. Living in Los Angeles also boosted her love for the industry. Her role models are Rebecca Sugar, Ava Duverney, and Michelle Obama.

“I started with the idea, writing the story and creating the characters,” Jones said, adding that she used some of her favorite women leaders as inspiration for the story. “There’s a lot, but I think some of my favorites would be women who work in the film industry, like Rebecca Sugar, Ava DuVernay or Oprah, because I want to be one of those women (someday).”

Jones does not mind spending hours a day crafting, drawing, and studying films to get inspiration to make her own — which she did. As the director of the film, Jones oversaw the creative aspects of production and making sure she visualized her script well enough to direct the animator. She was happy with the outcome of the animation because her vision became a reality.

The ambitious animated filmmaker also co-wrote the film’s theme song with Grammy-nominated producer, Ben Franklin.

The greatest lesson Jones wants to share with the world is that we are all capable of achieving greatness once we believe in ourselves. She wants to impact the world positively and hopes the film inspires young people to face all adversities headstrong as they pursue their dreams.

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