Meet Gabi Reiss Freedman
“I think it is cool that you can create something from nothing by taking drawings and making them move, breathe and talk.”
When two essential values collide, it can be difficult to maintain both. Gabi Freedman Reiss has turned this balancing act into an art form.
Many people in Gabi’s community were shocked to hear that she was learning to become an animator. “They would say ‘Oh, that’s so nice’, but what they were really thinking was ‘Good luck finding a job.’”
Gabi knew, despite the lack of support from those around her, that there were jobs in the field, and she was confident she could attain one.
Challenges in Gabi’s work have come up in relation to her level of religious observance. Being an Orthodox Jew in a profession that relies on late nights and weekend shifts is difficult. Having to leave early on Fridays for Shabbat and taking off work for the holidays puts a strain on the work environment.
Gabi’s studio produces one episode of a television show per week. “Friday is always a hard deadline, and, in the winter, when Shabbat comes in early, I have to make sure all of the work is done ahead of time.” This adds great stress to the work, since timing, an essential concept in Judaism, is just as important in the studio.
“I still don’t really know anyone Jewish in the industry. It’s not the typical job where you walk in and see people with the same background as you. I’ve found my place, but I’m definitely the odd one out.”
It is Gabi’s love of animation that pushed her to pursue it professionally. “I think it is cool that you can create something from nothing by taking drawings and making them move, breathe and talk.”
Her work is all about storytelling. She writes a visual script that tells stories beyond the realm of reality.
She makes sure her own story works hand in hand with her profession, and, in doing so, has found success both in maintaining her religious beliefs and working in the field of animation.
“For me, the biggest thing is you should be doing something that makes you happy. Make what you love work with your life.”
Gabi Freedman Reiss grew up in Thornhill. After high school, she completed degrees in Animation and Visual and Creative Arts at Sheridan College. She now works at Elliot Animation as a layout artist and hopes to continue working in the industry and eventually direct for television or feature films.
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Jumans of Toronto is a window into the lives and passion of Jewish young adults making their mark in the world. A 50-part series, Jumans is inspired by Humans of New York. If you’d like to recommend someone awesome to be highlighted, please send an email to email@example.com.
Written by: Adina Samuels