Shondalia White knows the meaning of “persistence.” She grew up in Flint, Michigan—far away from the entertainment industry. Despite the negativity she initially heard from those around her, she continues to follow a path toward her dreams. So far, she couldn’t be happier.
“Landing a job at a major studio in just three months while working on multiple projects has been one of my greatest accomplishments,” said White. “Many told me that it wouldn't happen or would take a while, but lo and behold, it did for me. Having a positive attitude, persistence and faith can get you a long way. If you work hard and keep your eye on the prize, anything is possible.”
For the past five plus years, White has enjoyed a successful career at Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, California, and is now emerging as an actor/comedian/writer/producer through her company Smiley Face Productions.
“Working at Nickelodeon has been an amazing experience, and I definitely wouldn't be who I am today if I didn't work there first," White reflected. "I'm very proud to say that I am finally living my dream and working full-time as a creative/executive producer, comedian and actor. I'm in the process of writing a one woman show titled ‘Rockin My 'Fro!,’ and I will be writing and staring in a series of live action comedy shorts with my writing partner later this year. I do hope to work with Nickelodeon again in a producer/actor capacity...
“I’ve always been an actor. As an animator, you are an actor too. I think it’s important for animators to take improv and at least one acting class so that they understand how to truthfully portray life on screen. Where I'm different is I always wanted to take it further. I got my start back in college acting and doing voice overs on various shorts, including my own. I also had a gig at U of M for their online student surveys to help teach students how to make the right choices in tough situations.”
White recently won Flapper Comedy Club's "Uncle Clyde's Comedy Contest" for a six-minute stand-up comedy set and just moved on to the next round "Clyde's Soup-Or-Bowl" where she could win $500 and a gig at the comedy club.
"Wish me luck!” she laughed. "It was a great ride! I didn't win the second round, but you can't win them all."
“My goal is to be the next Tina Fey or Amy Poehler where I'm writing, producing, acting, and voice acting on a large respectable scale. It's awesome to be able to use my artistic skills in so many capacities. I also did my own website and logos—other skills I acquired at CCS."
While White appreciates the knowledge she gained at CCS, she credits the network and friendships she built for her professional career as the biggest payoff.
“I just pitched my first short to Nickelodeon titled ‘Trick & Trayne Wreck’ where I collaborated with a close friend and CCS alum Serge Gay Jr,” she said. “It wasn't picked up for this round of submissions, but I have plenty more where that came from! You may even see it as a short or animatic some day under my Smiley Face Productions name."
Before venturing out on her own, White was a senior animation production coordinator at Nickelodeon where she was involved in the entire production process—from script to post production. She was also responsible for backing up the production manager and training to be a manager all while having a vivid role in the staffing process for the animated series "Robot & Monster" and "Wallykazam!". Her other credits include “Tak and the Power of Juju,” “The Penguins of Madagascar” and “Fanboy and ChumChum.”
“I decided to work on the production management side of television animation because I felt that was where my creativity fit best and I wanted to learn to produce,” White explained. “I enjoyed the people, fast pace and opportunity to learn about the process of creating a show with hopes of one day doing my own. "
“Some people think production management is just tracking but there is much more to it. Over the past five years I’ve enhanced my leadership and management skills as well as my knowledge of cinematography, writing, design and animation. This experience has strengthened my skill set to become a creative/executive producer.
“Since I graduated from CCS, I've done more design work than anything, especially to promote myself and a couple of other lucky people. I’ve also done some consulting. Due to high demand, I'm even considering making it a business—still considering it though. I do have to relax at some point!”
To learn more about White’s work, visit www.shondaliasmiles.com.