His peers were playing tomfoolery – experimenting in all sorts of binges their youthful bodies would tolerate – during the hard lock down in the first quarter of last year. However, Lwazi Msipha, elected to channel his energy towards perfecting his craft, creating what, unbeknown to him, would be a cinematographic masterpiece, an animated show, My Cartoon Friend. Even beyond his wildest imagination, the show is being aired on American cable television channel Car­toon Network – the holy grail of success in the world of animation. And not SABC TV channels! This should sink in.

The 13-episode production revolves around a friendship between a 2D version of Msipha and Themba, a cartoon character. The two co-existing in the same world, learning to live with each other as their friends.

For Masipha, big breaks don’t come like this. Not on SABC V, but the holy grail of success in the world of animation – the Cartoon Network.

Masipha is delighted at having turned his passion, a second nature of telling stories through animatio,n into a full-time career.

Asked on how, he got recognised by Cartoon Network, Msipha says it all started after attending an animation festival in France in 2018.  He attended the festival, thanks to funding received from the National Film and Video Foundation and a French company that worked closely with the University of Witwatersrand’s Digital Lab Africa. At the time, he was still a first year student at the Animation School pursuing a Diploma in animation. .

While attending the conference in 2018, Msipha also had a one-month residency in France. Making the most of the opportunity, he used the festival and the time spent in France to market himself and his work to members of Cartoon Network. .

Msipha’s big break came when he least expected during the hard lockdown in 2020 “During the hard lockdown I received an email from Cartoon Network asking me to create a show that inspires kids and makes them laugh. I had no prior experience but did not let that stop me. I managed to deliver an awesome show through a sponsorship from Netflix.”

Msipha developed the love for animation, after watching an animated show called Dragon Ball Z. He reminisces noticing that, when Dragon Ball Z aired on the television, all the children in his neighbourhood would enjoy the show so much they would stop playing on the streets. This prompted Msipha to do further research on the art of animation and make a career out of ii. His mother also encouraged him to study animation and offered moral supported

Msipha will be going to France soon, where he will be pursuing a Masters in animation at the Gobelins School of Imagery in Paris.

 Msipha says he would like to plough back all the knowledge he has gathered into the South African animation industry. “I plan on creating a programme that teaches children how to animate, by showing them that it is as simple as using a cell- phone.”

Msipha plans to open an animation studio that tells South African stories.

Source: Information sourced from Vukuzenzele and adapted for Transform SA

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