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February 16
2021

Dare Greatly – Creativity Is Always A Leap Of Faith: Kaitlyn Yang

Kaitlyn Yang, Visual Effects Supervisor and Alpha Studios Founder

Visual effects supervisor Kaitlyn Yang was hooked on digital imaging when she was nine years old, upon discovering Photoshop and STAR WARS. A graduate of USC Film School, Kaitlyn founded VFX postproduction company Alpha Studios when she was 25 and made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Hollywood and Entertainment, and has served on the Television Academy’s Awards Committee and as Co-Chair of the VES Los Angeles Section. An immigrant and wheelchair user, Kaitlyn overcame additional obstacles in her career and has used that experience to fuel her advocacy for diversity and inclusion, to further the representation of disabled artists in entertainment.

I’ve been asked, which of these characteristics that describe me (disabled with spinal muscular atrophy, Chinese-American, woman), have posed the biggest challenge in moving forward, and I’d say being a woman in this business. Even to this day, when I show up to set as a VFX supervisor, the first question I’m asked is “who are you here visiting?” It’s an everyday thing that will change with time. The more women are seen and empowered in senior roles, the less these trivial questions will come up. I took a leap of faith in starting my own company, and I am committed to achieving greater equity and opportunity for everyone in VFX.

Early on, my mom said that because I have a visible disability, I need to be at least five times as qualified as a ‘regular’ person to be considered for a role …and going through my career, I agree with that. When I was starting out, I didn’t see people who looked like me on screen or behind the scenes. There are still negative connotations around people with disabilities or anything outside what people perceive as the norm, and that drove me to prove myself so that I would not be overlooked. I carry that drive forward to raise awareness of the untapped talent all around us and how those perspectives lend so much to storytelling and our business. Let’s all do our part to make it the norm to see diversity all the way down the end credits.

 

I subscribe to the “send the elevator down as fast as possible” mentality, to bring more people up. I was fortunate to have great mentors and I want to pass on the ethos that inspires me: Always set the bar the highest for yourself, be diligent, be true, be persistent in learning everything you can. Keep creating and eventually you will be so good that people won’t ignore you. And one of my favorites quotes – head down, prayers up, do work – put out positive energy and it will come back to you.

 

If I were to look back at how we came to the U.S. in 1997 with everything we owned in a few suitcases, to think that one day I would own a company in Hollywood…it’s nothing I could have foreseen. Looking back, I prioritized learning as much about visual effects as possible, before I even hit double digits. And I have worked to stay true to my passion, my vision, and my purpose.

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