Naito’s star keeps rising, with the ViacomCBS exec adding Paramount Animation to her purview in October. The promotion was one of Brian Robbins’ first moves as President and CEO of Paramount Pictures—a testament to the high regard he holds for Naito. Her track record includes the recently released “PAW Patrol: The Movie” and the first-ever “SpongeBob SquarePants” spinoff, “Kamp Koral.” Naito’s continuously working to build an inclusive and diverse culture for the animation studio, hiring more than 700 new employees across dozens of productions since she joined the company in 2018. Under her leadership, Nickelodeon held its first-ever virtual job fair last year, with nearly 6,000 global attendees. “Many of us have been working from home since early 2020. As we look to re-enter the workforce, I think it’s important to focus your needs and revisit skills and interests,” she says. “Everything shut down very quickly and the world looks different than it did a year ago, so try to embrace the unexpected and be flexible.”
What’s one way your company has broadened the recruiting process to ensure greater diversity?
There have been several ways in which we have broadened the recruiting process at Nickelodeon to ensure greater diversity. When I first joined Nickelodeon, my focus was to reinvigorate the core values of Nickelodeon Animation— it’s artist driven, it’s inclusive and it’s creator driven. This meant, I had to build a team and hire with a focus on diverse leadership. Over the last three years, I have made some key hires that illustrate our new leadership, which helps attract diverse talent and stories to Nickelodeon. These choices have made a huge impact on our slate which is now very diverse and absolutely needed.
A big part of our culture is recruitment and retention in our program and our partnerships. In 2020, I hired Camille Eden to head animation recruitment to help build the Nickelodeon culture and hire and develop talent. We want to ensure our talent pool is a diverse and an inclusive culture for Nick and employees work at a place where they feel at home. Camille has made a significant impact in the recruitment and inclusion space by broadening our reach and awareness in underrepresented groups or diverse groups, so we have authentic touch points and pathways that build our studio in an inclusive way.
Our focus has also been to bridge the work we do between the animation community and our internal Artists and Writers’ Program and the Nick Internship Program, to increase accessibility for underrepresented BIPOC talent. These programs have been a part of Nick for years and have a lens toward diversity and inclusion.
Finally, Nickelodeon held its first-ever virtual job fair in 2020, garnering over 6000 attendees globally, exemplifying a commitment to hire inclusively and to reflect authenticity and diversity in storytelling.
Do you have an example of male allyship that made a difference to you?
Brian Robbins has given me the most incredible opportunity of a lifetime and my dream job. Brian hired me in 2018 to head Nick’s Animation studio, a job that has allowed me to follow my deep passion for animation, build the most incredible team and shape the Studio into a new chapter for kids and families globally.
Most recently, my role expanded to include oversight of Paramount Animation so the opportunity to make animated films and join Paramount with such a beloved brand as Nickelodeon will lead us to becoming the biggest powerhouse in animation. And I have Brian to thank for that.
Best advice for someone looking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus?
This has been one of the most unprecedented times in history as many of us have been working from home since early 2020. As we look to re-enter the workforce, I think it’s important to focus your needs and revisit skills and interests. Everything shut down very quickly and the world looks different than it did a year ago, so try to embrace the unexpected and be flexible. Also, don’t be afraid to lean on your network of friends and colleagues.