Pixar's Talent Spotter

May 23, 2017 Juvy Dichoso

As a young girl Kim Diaz loved all things creative. She would draw all the time, and was about 5 or 6 when she realized how much it meant. “I just wanted to be around creativity, it inspired me,” she says. “I remember seeing Beauty and the Beast for the first time in the theater, and I was amazed at the story and the characters and the music. I just loved it all. My parents are very traditional, so they didn’t understand why I would love drawing or watching cartoons. To them, it was a hobby...not something that you could make a living doing.”

Her parents eventually came around and began to understand her love of animation. They have been supportive ever since. Diaz studied animation at an art school in San Francisco, and after graduating she worked as an animator for a Bay Area startup that created children’s educational content.

But then the dot.com bubble burst, and Diaz moved on to work as a graphic designer for a small design studio, where she became interested in another aspect of the industry. “I was fascinated by the client aspect of the job, and decided that I was going to go back to school and study business. Before I could do that, I was offered a job as a Career Advisor at the art school that I graduated from. The majors I advised for were primarily design-focused. That job allowed me to network with a lot of creative companies in the Bay Area,” Kim recounts.

Her networking paid off in a job as a Creative Recruiter for Lucasfilm. “I spent a good amount of time there recruiting for all parts of the business, locally and globally,” she says.  That experience led to a call from a former colleague working at Pixar, who told her about an opening there for a Creative Recruiter. “It was my dream job. I eventually had an opportunity to join the studio in 2013. I have been here since then.”

Pixar of course is just not any other company in the animation and film industry. It was founded in 1979 by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, as a company that specialized in computer technology for films. The company was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs—the founder of Apple—and in 1991 he partnered with the Disney Company on a deal that would revolutionize animated films. In 1995, the Disney-Pixar partnership produced Toy Story, the first-ever computer-animated feature film. A string of blockbuster movie hits followed, including Cars, Monsters, and 2016’s Finding Dory.

Diaz is now the senior manager of recruitment and talent outreach. “My job is to oversee all of the talent acquisition and outreach efforts for Pixar. I take a lot of pride in doing this work. This studio is made up of a lot of incredibly talented people, and I want to make sure that our team is continuing to bring that top-notch talent here,” Diaz explains.

She considers it an honor to work at Pixar, not only for all the great people who work there, but also for all the many people who want jobs. “There are so many great people out there, and there are a limited number of positions here in the studio—the challenge is not being able to hire everyone!”

In evaluating prospective employees, Diaz looks for people who are passionate about what they do. She relies less on her gut feelings though when making a hiring recommendation. “I always try and make the best decisions given the information I have. I think we are all human, and your gut feeling comes in to play, but for me, I like to think that I rely on making an informed decision,” she explains.

Diaz resides in California, but still thinks of Guam as home. “My mom and sisters (and their families) still live there. A typical trip back home for me is visiting family, friends, and eating good, home-cooked meals...and lots of barbecue!

To friends and colleagues in the States who may not know much about her home island, she describes it as “a beautiful tiny island in the South Pacific filled with a culture of love and family.”

Diaz’s best advice to those aspiring to be animators or filmmakers is “don’t give up, work hard, and stay humble. Remember where you came from, inspire, be inspired, and share your story and talent with the world. You never know where you may end up...and when you get there, don’t forget to pay it forward!”

 

“My job is to oversee all of the talent acquisition and outreach efforts for Pixar. I take a lot of pride in doing this work. This studio is made up of a lot of incredibly talented people, and I want to make sure that our team is continuing to bring that top-notch talent here.”

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