Animation alum helps Make-a-Wish

theos roon animation

Talk about meta. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation was asked to fulfill a request from a youth named Theo for help in becoming an animator, the nonprofit not only partnered with Wacom to give him his own workspace setup, it also reached out to animators at Columbus College of Art & Design for assistance in going one step further. 

Make-A-Wish first connected with Animation Professor and Chair Charlotte Belland, who in turn suggested that recent alumna Katherine Williams (Animation, 2020) would be the perfect person to create a short, animated clip showing the young boy in his new workspace.

Wacom, which manufactures tablets and graphics software, helped set up a mini animation studio for Theo. 

“They wanted to also do a short little animation featuring Theo, but they didn’t know how to do it, so they reached out to Charlotte Belland, who then reached out to me to do the project,” Williams recalls.

“I was told the child’s name, they gave me two photos of him, and they gave me a little information on what his wish was and what Make-A-Wish did to fulfill that wish,” she says says. 

The biggest challenge, she says, came in designing the background for the animated character. 

“I could easily turn Theo into a digital cartoon character, but I spent most of my time trying to recreate his room environment as best as I could. I was only given two photos of Theo: one in his living room, and the other in the corner of his room where Wacom did his studio setup. I used colors that were in the photos and for extra detail, I took some of the drawings he drew on his wall and incorporated them into the digital environment,” says Williams.

The project “meant the world to me, because I had no idea I was doing this for a young Black kid until they sent me his photos for reference,” says Williams, who is Black. “I’m honored and proud to know that I got to do something that will show future young Black animators that there are others out here in the industry that look like us.” 

See more of Katherine Williams’ animations on her website. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.

Learn more about CCAD’s Animation program or apply here.