Making industry connections with talented and prominent people, attending movie screenings and getting invited to endless exclusive events: this is the life of James Mosley II.
“I’m like fresh off the Super Bowl win,” Mosley, an entertainment art and animation major, said about being a newly hired, production assistant for the cable network, Nickelodeon, this past January. At the studio, Mosley works on animatics storyboards and rough animation episodes overlapped with movement, dialogue and music.
His internship with Nickelodeon was from September to December 2014 at the Dora and Friends production. When the internship was over, Mosley admitted he was too afraid to “overstep his boundaries” and ask for a position, when the producer called him “basically handing” him a spot with the company.
CSUF alumnus and Dora and Friends Production Coordinator, Max Breaudry, described Mosley as a prepared, responsible individual with great communication skills, who is always on top of things.
At the age of four, Mosley showed an interest in illustration because of his habit of drawing on his mother’s walls. James’ father, James Mosley Sr., recalls coming home to little scenes drawn on the living room walls of children playing. Mosley’s parents then realized their son had a talent.
Then at 16 years old, Mosley went on an unforgettable family trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. There he discovered a desire to be like Walt Disney, igniting his drive for animation.
Aaron McGruder, an African-American cartoonist and creator of The Boondocks, was another pull to Mosley’s passion.
“When you’re an inner city kid, a lot of what you see is basketball and rap, and we don’t have a lot of heroes in animation,” Mosley said about McGgruder. “What he does is really cool.”
In high school, Mosley took a chance and wrote a comic strip for the school newspaper. He received positive feedback from his peers giving him the confidence to decide his next step.
Mosley then created his own YouTube channel. He taught himself how to animate on Windows Movie Maker and write comedic scripts.
“Script writing and making a show … I was doing it all, writing the script, making sure my friends could do voices; mastering the form of making a show,” Mosley said.
Mosley Sr. remembers his son always being creative; he built a sound room in a closet and had friends come do voice overs for his first accomplished short animation, he said.
After high school, Mosley decided to venture off to the west coast from Detroit, Michigan to join his father, who was living in Santa Barbara. Mosley received his associate degree in animation and gaming at Santa Barbara City College, and is currently a senior at CSUF looking to receive his B.A. in general studio next fall.
Now two months into his production assistant job, Mosley acknowledged how lucky he is to work with prominent talent in the entertainment industry.
“There are no egos on our crew. It’s weird because I feel like they should have egos, they are all so talented and they treat you like you’re one of them,” Mosley said.
Mosley Sr. described his son as a modest individual who genuinely wants to make people feel comfortable around him. “He is always striving for that next level,” Mosley Sr. said.
The animation industry is a small pool of talented people who are easy to work with and know how to take direction, Breaudry said.
“James is a really good example of someone who could be the future of this company because of his positivity and hard work, and the fact he does always strives to learn more,” Breaudry said.
Mosley II is currently working on a side project—a short cartoon with Breaudry. The protagonist is a mushroom princess who has a chocolate dog in a land made of candy and chocolate. The young princess must overcome the doubt of her townspeople, Mosley said. The short is significant because it tests his art to see if it fits with a children’s audience.
This project is the most effort Mosley has put into a film, because he chose traditional drawing animation. The process is “agonizing” but he’s expecting better results because of it, Mosley said. Mosely and his team plan to have it posted on YouTube by August.
Mosley plans to remain with Nickelodeon and hopes to one day become a producer or director with multiple running shows.
“I didn’t know how I was going to get to any level, all I knew was that—it’s blind faith at this point, it’s my religion. I can’t see it, I can’t touch it but I feel like I can be great someday in this industry,” Mosley said.