This Way Up
Ever since Yvette Kaplan got her first summer job at 18, the Brooklyn-born toon veteran has been drawing lines around the competition.
“There wasn’t a lot happening in the animation world in New York after I graduated from New York’s School of Visual Arts,” she recalls, “but I got work on some animated commercials and some indie projects.”
In the early 1990s, she was hired as an animator and quickly became a director on Nickelodeon’s Doug. “I then got a call from an MTV show called Beavis and Butt-Head. The second I saw it, I fell in love with the comedy, the characters and their creator, Mike Judge. I stayed for the full seven-year run of the show.”
Across her career, Kaplan has worked steadily in various capacities; her animation credits include features such as Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996) and Ice Age (2002) and the shows King of the Hill and Futurama. In recent years, she co-created, produced and directed episodes of the CG–animated preschool series Zack and Quack, which airs worldwide.
“My agent likes to say that I am like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” she jokes. “I have worked my way up, sideways, backward and forward. More important, I’ve worked with people that I have loved and have been able to bring characters to life that have made people laugh and cry.”
These days Kaplan has been working as a timing director on Disney TV’s reboot of DuckTales. “I think the show is going to knock everyone’s socks off. It has the characters that we all love, but it also has a cutting-edge graphic look.”
While Kaplan notes that the ranks of creators and showrunners remain “boy-heavy,” things are changing with the likes of Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe) and Daron Nefcy (Star vs. the Forces of Evil) — and there are more women enrolled in animation schools than ever before.
“The more emotional content is attracting them. Though men still hold the reins, I believe that we will be seeing more and more women in key creative roles.”
Kaplan says her next goal is to battle ageism in the business. “My personal focus is, 50 percent over 50!” she says cheerfully.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2017