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September 26
2023

ISSUE

Summer 2023

Lyndon J. Barrois, Sr.: From Hot Wheels To Hollywood

Lyndon J. Barrois, Sr. is an acclaimed artist, animation director and filmmaker, whose film credits include The Matrix Trilogy, Happy Feet, Sucker Punch and The Thing, where he directed pivotal character animation sequences. He currently wins accolades for his unique gum wrapper sculptures and stop-motion animations of historic figures and events, whose portrait and Sportrait films are produced entirely on iPhones. An advocate for underrepresented voices in the entertainment industry, he serves on the Academy Museum’s Inclusion Advisory Committee, fostering programs and supporting exhibitions, as well as the AMPAS VFX Executive Branch.

My gum wrapper sculptures were directly influenced by my upbringing in New Orleans, where making Mardi Gras floats out of repurposed materials is part of the culture. My mom was a fanatical gum chewer and her discarded Wrigley Chewing Gum wrappers – paper on one side, foil on the other – spawned my artistic path of shaping them into humanistic sculptures. At age 10, these figures had just one job: to drive my Hot Wheels cars! As I progressed to sculpting athletes and icons, it was my desire to animate them and bring to life great moments in sports and history that led me to CalArts and a long career in animation.

When The Academy Museum was preparing to open in Los Angeles, we knew we had an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that diverse artists and filmmakers were represented on every floor, with no one left out. It was and is imperative that this space is true to film-

makers of color and women, and not “whitewashed.” Since the advent of film, people of color have always done the work, but too often the narratives write us out. The Museum is one forum to right those wrongs..and The Academy’s Aperture 2025 diversity standards for Best Picture nominees is another move to ensure that artists from all backgrounds are not overlooked and rightfully recognized.

Art is a huge umbrella. So many people want to be artists or are qualified to be teachers who don’t get the opportunity. When it comes to nurturing and hiring talent, you have to cast a wide net beyond the people you know and people who look like you, or it limits the possibilities for such a big part of the population who deserve their shot in merit – and have so much to offer by sharing their unique vision and life experience. The work must continue and intensify to let people from all communities know that opportunities exist and to help them pursue our viable, exciting profession and succeed.

Since the advent of film, people of color have always done the work, but too often the narratives write us out.

Al and evolving technology are exciting and intimidating all at once – but we’ve been here before. Advances in tech is just the changing nature of the art form and the key is always adaptation. Way back we thought photography would kill painting, motion pictures would kill live theater, CG would kill 2D animation, mo-cap would kill character animation – and none of that happened. Advances push us to work harder, learn new things, and better our craft. The best strategy is to embrace change – because it will keep coming – and co-exist in this richer, dynamic universe.

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