Twenty-four-year-old Amy Hudkins, born and raised on Saipan, is making a name for herself as one of Walt Disney’s cartoon artists in California.
Hudkins is a writer and storyboard artist for Disney Channel’s Big City Greens, a cartoon comedy and adventure series that focuses on a country boy named Cricket Green who moves to the big city with his family.
“You can watch [Big City Greens] on Disney Channel. Storyboard artists often wear a bunch of different hats, but the job is primarily one thing: To draw out a blueprint for what you see on screen,” said Hudkins in an email to Saipan Tribune.
In animation, that also means drawing expressions, drawing the character acting, drawing where they are, what the scene is, and turning the story into something people can watch.
“We also write dialogue and jokes,” Hudkins added.
Hudkins finished high school at Saipan International School and took up animation at the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia.
“I’ve really liked drawing for as long as I can remember, but I think animated cartoons on television are what really inspired me. I used to trace a lot of anime and manga to try and draw like it,” she said.
Hudkins credits her high school art teacher, Nancy Provido, for sustaining her love of drawing. “I grew a lot learning from her. She would also call me out on my weaknesses.”
Her mother, Merle Costelo-Hudkins, saw Hudkins’ potential for drawing when she was just 7. “She started drawing anime when she was a child.” She recounted that Amy’s art teacher in high school saw her work and talked to her that Amy has talent “and told me to encourage Amy to work on it.”
Hudkins said that working on the Big City Greens show was a matter of being “in the right place and right time.”
“I got really lucky in terms of getting hired by the show. I took a storyboard test (at Disney) right before graduating college and they happened to really like my stuff. I feel grateful every day as I learn so much from the amazing people on the show.”
For Hudkins, the storyline of Big City Greens hits close to home because it is similar to her journey—moving from island life on Saipan to a big city in California.
“Chris and Shane Houghton, the creators of the show, based it around growing up in the country and moving to the city, which is kind of like growing up in Gualo Rai and moving to Los Angeles. The ‘fish out of water’ story…is relatable to most people, not just ‘country folk,’” she said.
“I am grateful for my time growing up on Saipan and I’m grateful for my family, especially to my parents who had my back and supported me and my dreams. The show has a lot of heart and a lot of laughs so please give it a chance and watch it! You can find the first episode for free on YouTube or iTunes,” she added.