Academy of Art University Alumni and The Golden Globes

January 8, 2020 - By 
academy of art university

The New Year is a golden opportunity for new beginnings, but it is also time to celebrate golden achievements of the past year. For those involved in the film and television industries, this time of year brings the excitement of the 77th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television from throughout 2019. 

On Sunday, January 5, 2020, the live event was hosted at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, and will air on NBC. As with many years in the past, several alumni from Academy of Art University in San Francisco were instrumental in helping some films attain the level of quality that earns Golden Globe nominations. 

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Academy of Art University Alumni Contributors 

The following graduates of Academy of Art University contributed their talents and skills to these projects. 


Missing Link (2019)

Mr. Link recruits an explorer to help find his long-lost distant relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, the three explorers travel the world to help their new friend. Missing Link took home the award for Best Motion Picture.


  • Cynthia Chen, MFA, Motion Picture and Television – Editing (2017) – Colorist
  • Alex Widener (2013) – Pipeline Developer
  • Tyler Fermelis, BFA, Computer Arts, 3D Modeling (2006) – RP Character Modeler
  • Guillermo Martinez, BFA 2D Character Animation (2010) – Story Artist


Toy Story 4 (2019) – Pixar Animation Studios

Toy Story 4 is the continued story of the beloved Pixar Toy Story characters as they road trip alongside a new toy called “Forky.” Toy Story 4 was nominated for Best Motion Picture in the Animation category.   


  • Josh Cooley – Director
  • Rosana Sullivan – Story Artist
  • Erik Smitt – Layout Artist
  • Terry Song – Animator
  • Guilherme Jacinto, BFA, Animation & Visual Effects (2007) – Animator
  • Jenna Calvao, BFA, Animation & Visual Effect (2010) – Project Coordinator
  • Tom Zach, BFA, Character Animation (2005) – Animator
  • Stephen Wong, BFA, Illustration/Animation (2005) – Animator
  • Erinn Kathryn Burke, MFA, Multimedia Communications (2013) – Production Office Manager
  • Jae Hyung Kim, MFA, Animation (2006) – Animator
  • Raphael Suter, BFA, Fine Arts and Animation (2005) – Animator
  • Laura Meyer, BFA, Graphic Design – Graphic Artist
  • Brett Schulz, Animation – Animator
  • Adam Rodriguez, 3D Character Animation (2011) – Animator
  • Tomoyuki (Tomo) Harashima, MFA, Character Animation (2006) – Animator
  • Joshua Dai, Animation (2010) – Animator
  • Nicole Ridgwell, BFA, Animation (2015) – Animator
  • Axel Geddes – Film Editor
  • Cameron Miyasaki, MFA, Animation (2001) – Animator
  • Jamie Datz, BFA, Film and Television Production (2001) – Assistant Editor
  • Andrea Goh – Layout Artist


Frozen II (2019) – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Frozen II follows Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Sven as they set out to discover the origin of Elsa’s powers in an effort to save their kingdom. Frozen II is a contender for Best Motion Picture in the Animated category and Best Original Song. 


  • Louaye Moulayess, BFA, 3D Character Animation (2009) – Animator
  • Eric Bouffard, MFA, Visual Effects (2004) – Matte Painte Supervisor
  • Youngjae Choi, MFA, Computer Animation (2002) – Animator
  • Tony Alexander, BFA, 3D Character Animation (2000) – Lighting Artist
  • Leif Jeffers, BFA, Computer Animation (2005) – Animator


Lion King (2019) – Moving Picture Company (MPC) 

The newest adaptation of Disney’s beloved, Lion King was also nominated for Best Animated Motion Picture. 


  • Victor Wagner, BFA, Animation & Visual Effects/ MFA, Animation & Visual Effects (2007 & 2009) – Technical Director/Key FX Artist


All three of these films are nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture, thanks to the hard work and skills of these Academy alumni and their associates. 


Preparing for the Entertainment Arts Industry at Academy of Art University 

As you can see above, there are numerous roles people can play in the entertainment industry without being in front of the camera. Indeed, there are dozens of jobs for people behind the scenes that are critical to a film or program’s success. For those seeking to prepare for a career in entertainment, Academy of Art University has several paths you can follow. 


School of Acting

The School of Acting prepares students to become proficient in the artistry of theatre, film, and television. Instructors in the Academy of Art University School of Acting are professional, working actors themselves, who can pass along relevant and timely skills and experience to prepare students for a wide variety of projects. 


School of Animation & Visual Effects

Students will gain impeccable skills needed for an exciting career in this vibrant and growing industry from the School of Animation & Visual Effects (VFX). Aspiring visual effects artists, 2D and 3D animators, and storyboard artists come to the Academy to learn from industry professionals actively working in the heart of the animation industry.


School of Communications & Media Technologies

The School of  Communication & Media Technologies is thriving in a time when these skills are in great demand on every multimedia platform. From broadcast and streaming, to mobile and social, students will learn to shoot, edit, and produce stories that inform, entertain, and engage audiences of every stripe. 


School of Motion Pictures & Television

Immerse yourself in the exciting world of filmmaking at the Academy’s signature School of  Motion Pictures & Television. Students will study with talented, experienced professionals who are currently working in the entertainment industry, including Academy and Emmy Award winning artists. Graduates from this program will possess the skills and talent needed for maximum industry preparedness. 


School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media

Turn that love into a successful career through the Academy’s innovative music production program. Industry professionals teach the artistic and technical aspects of music design and production at the School of Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, especially as they apply to filmmaking and video game production.


School of Visual Development

In the School of Visual Development, artists learn the key elements of the production pipeline – setting the artistic design and even the moods for images that will entertain a wide variety of audiences. Students will be deeply immersed in twenty-first century media and all its aspects in order to prepare for an exciting career. 


School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media

Students wishing to learn feature film and television screenwriting from Academy and Emmy Award-winning writers, producers, and development executives will be right at home in the Academy’s School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media. Budding creatives will learn the art of visual storytelling along with basic production realities concerning directing and acting, and how all these elements combine to produce effective script writing. 


Academy of Art University is Your Golden Opportunity

For those who are enthralled with the idea of entertainment and creativity for the screen, Academy of Art University is the place you begin. The Academy’s top-tier, accredited programs feature the latest technology, industry-active instructors, and plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience in real-world environments. All from the heart of San Francisco, one of the most creatively thriving cities in the entire world. 

As the largest private art instruction school in the United States, Academy of Art University has been training artists and creatives for a wide variety of industries since 1929. Academy alumni contribute to popular and ground-breaking film and television at companies like LucasFilm, Disney, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, American Idol, MGM Studios, Warner Brothers Studios, Marvel, and Sony Pictures, just to name a few. 

Are you ready to explore the possibilities of a creative career in motion pictures and television, or some other artistic venue? For more information, visit  



Sujit Choudhry: For the Sake of Democracy, Autocracy Must Be Called by Its Name

January 7, 2020 - By 

Sujit Choudhry is an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics. The founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, his research focus spans across a wide variety of comparative constitutional law and politics issues. He has recently composed a book chapter that is planned for release in Constitutional Democracies in Crisis.? In it, Professor Choudhry brings up several intriguing points regarding the current political climate in the nation.


The first is an elaboration of as well as a commentary on a new slogan that was adopted by the Washington Post last year: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” According to Professor Choudhry, this slogan highlights the central and essential role of the media in democracy as it has the ability to bring to light any and all exercises of public power, even those that governments would prefer to remain unpublished. Furthermore, by linking darkness to the death of democracy, Choudhry suggests that the press is using this slogan as a call to action. As such, the role of media is pivotal not just in the proper functioning and health of democracy, but it is essential for its survival.


Choudhry further comments on the slogan, explaining how it links political action, constitutions and democratic stability. He goes on to write that there is a set of unwritten norms that are the support structure for a strong constitution – and these norms are to be followed to preserve institutions’ resilience against an implicit treat that Choudhry dubs as a “would-be autocrat.” In terms of these norms, Choudhry further writes that “Steve Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in How Democracies Die, term these norms forbearance – the refusal to exercise power to its full legal limits – and mutual toleration – the acceptance of the legitimacy of the political opposition.” Along the same lines, Choudhry mentions that according to Sam Issacharoff, these norms are under political strain in the U.S. and that what is the current reality, namely that the President is exercising his executive power to prosecute political opponents, was once unthinkable. “Yet now, chants of “lock her up” take center stage at rallies of the Republican Party, urged on by President Trump himself.”


Professor Choudhry goes on to explain that the importance of the norms is within their power to preserve the intended purposes of the institutions and rules of constitutional democracy. According to him, the norms are in place “to allow for collective decision-making under conditions of, and to preserve, political pluralism.” “Without those norms, those very same institutions and rules could be perversely weaponized to undermine the constitutional democracy and political pluralism they are designed to defend,” he writes. These unwritten norms, which he also calls conventions, are part of a constitutional culture rather than a constitutional design.


In his chapter, Professor Choudhry highlights that appropriate political anchors can be used as means to fuel political support for the very same unwritten norms that are behind the courts’ effectiveness, namely to “make the causal arrow in both directions. And, “To do so, courts must fearlessly call autocracy by its name,” Choudhry suggests.


Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions and an I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, he worked as a constitutional advisor to emerging democracies across the world. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.


sujit choudhry


Choudhry has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades. He is an expert in facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.


The Center for Constitutional Transitions generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building by assembling and leading international networks of experts to complete thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. It partners with a global network of multilateral organizations, think tanks, NGOs, and universities. In partnership with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Professor Choudhry is currently co-leading three global collaborative research projects: Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions, Security Sector Reform and Constitutional Transitions in Emerging Democracies, and Security Sector Oversight: Protecting Democratic Consolidation from Authoritarian Backsliding and Partisan Abuse, which will yield a series of research and policy outputs to be published in 2017.


Professor Choudhry’s publication record includes over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. He is author of several books and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law, the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law, and is an Honorary Member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Constitutional Law Review. More information on Sujit Choudhry can be found on his personal website as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter (@sujit_choudhry), Instagram (@sujitchoudhry) and on Facebook @SujitChoudhryLaw.


How Kushy Punch Is Fighting Opioid Addiction With CBD

December 30, 2019 - By 
Kushy Punch

Southern California-based edible brand Kushy Punch has cemented itself in the upper echelon of THC and CBD products since its inception in 2014. Now, the popular brand considers how it might be able to fight a national epidemic: opioid addiction.

Who Is Kushy Punch?

Kushy Punch, founded by acting CEO Ruben Cross, is a reliable and innovative edible brand serving the state of California. In 2014, Cross decided to branch off from cannabis cultivation and instead focus on building a brand.

And for Cross, building a brand meant establishing consistency. To him, consistency “was of paramount importance, particularly as the industry was poised to come above ground and become mainstream.”

Such consistency took the form of dozens of THC and CBD-infused products. Touting the line “feel the power of the punch,” Kushy Punch sells organic, non-GMO items birthed from a lab intent on using only high-quality oils, natural ingredients, and compliant packaging. A reliable experience for its customers begins with safety, and a safe, reliable experience is what you get from Kushy Punch.

Fighting Opioid Addiction

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized hemp by reclassifying it as an agricultural product instead of a drug. This is a hugely important distinction because hemp might be able to help with addiction.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a cannabis plant with an ultra-low (0.3 percent or less) THC level. So low, even, that it wouldn’t show up in a blood or urine test. What this means is that hemp won’t leave users with the traditional feeling of being “high.”

However, despite the lack of THC, what hemp does have is CBD.


CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound. So, unlike THC, it won’t give its users the feeling of being high. But it does interact with receptors in our brains and, particularly over the past few years, has begun to be recognized as having many potential health benefits.

Among these benefits is its ability to treat anxiety, depression, and pain. And what brands like Kushy Punch are doing is exercising all possible ways to make CBD available for safe public consumption.

Just last year, Kushy Punch launched a line of CBD products that won “Best CBD” at WeedCon in Ojai, California. This included a 500mg disposable CBD vape, 30ml tincture (an alcohol-based extract), 1000mg CBD oil dispenser, and 1000mg vape cartridge.

Says Safety Harbor Capital (a business consulting and trading company) CEO John Williams, “The CBD market has gone from a black market to a full-blown medical segment of the economy. Now is the time to consider a look at some of these early-stage companies.”

Kushy Punch is one of these brands. With founder and CEO Cross’s attention to quality and the limitless expertise of Kushy Punch Chief Scientist and Director of Research and Development Carolina Vasquez (who DOPE Magazine proclaimed as one of its 2018 Outstanding Women in Cannabis honorees), the industry luminary continues to define CBD’s capacity for good.

Can It Help With Opioid Addiction?

CBD might be able to help stifle the general craving that highlights addiction. Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute in Mount Sinai in New York City, conducted a study in which participants were given either an oral CBD solution or an inactive placebo. These participants included both men and women with a history of heroin abuse (despite not being users at the time of the study).

After receiving either the CBD or a placebo, participants were shown videos containing neutral and drug-related imagery. According to Hurd, the “findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder.” In fact, the study found that those given the oral CBD solution were less prone to cravings and anxiety as a result of the drug-related imagery.

Effective use of CBD in battling opioid abuse would be a huge win for a country that sees thousands of drug-related deaths each year. It would also present opioid abusers who are struggling to get clean with another treatment option. Currently, methadone and buprenorphine are used to treat opioid abuse patients. However, due to the stigma and further addictive risk of such treatments, many of these patients opt not to pursue treatment.

It’s Bigger Than Charity

Here’s what Cross told DOPE Magazine in 2016: “I think it goes beyond charity. It’s hard to live in a world and be really joyful when you see so much suffering. I think we are blessed to be in the industry. I can’t imagine doing anything else at this time that would make such a huge impact on human health.”

Clearly, Kushy Punch is more than a brand for Cross. It’s a calling. He doesn’t just see Kushy Punch as a supplier of THC and CBD products. In fact, defining Kushy Punch as such would minimize its true social impact.

Since its founding in 2014, Kushy Punch has made yearly donations to organizations like the LA Food Bank, Wildlife Waystation, GiveDirectly, and various veterans empowerment charities. According to Cross, the infancy of the cannabis industry allows Kushy Punch and other forward-thinking companies to develop pillars of philanthropy, humanitarianism, and community development. Kushy Punch isn’t just looking to guide the industry; it plans to leave its mark across the country.

Interested in Learning More?

With CBD’s growing relevance comes Kushy Punch’s own growth. Don’t miss the journey as the award-winning brand continues to push the envelope with its products and educate consumers about the wide range of benefits that CBD offers. Visit the Kushy Punch website today to see all of the company’s products and learn more about this expanding industry.

Kushy Punch

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Guilherme Benchimol: Manifestando Seu Próprio Destino Profissional

December 17, 2019 - By 
Guilherme Benchimol: Manifestando Seu Próprio Destino Profissional

Em todos os setores do emprego, o conceito de segurança existe apenas como uma interpretação, com algumas ocupações sendo mais suscetíveis aos ventos da mudança do que outras. Desde especialistas em um nicho altamente especializado, até trabalhadores braçais iniciantes, vários profissionais experimentam a perda de um emprego, a mudança dos mercados locais e as mudanças culturais que ditam as oportunidades profissionais. Embora as oportunidades possam ser perdidas como resultado do fraco desempenho, às vezes também podem desaparecer devido à falta de financiamento, reestruturação governamental, instabilidade, revolta cultural e residencial, ou outras circunstâncias totalmente imprevistas. Nesses casos, inúmeros profissionais de sucesso são forçados a reiniciar suas trajetórias de carreira, procurar novas oportunidades e sofrer a instabilidade entre esses eventos que alteram a vida.


Para o bem-sucedido empresário brasileiro Guilherme Benchimol, garantir a estabilidade do emprego em um mercado financeiro tradicional e estagnado significava desenvolver sua própria empresa, onde ele poderia aproveitar sua experiência financeira, desejar educar o público em geral sobre investimentos pessoais e agitar o status quo. Nascido de dois profissionais médicos, a busca de Benchimol pelo desenvolvimento de seu escopo profissional começou cedo, quando ele testemunhou a perda, a morte e a tristeza que às vezes acompanham a profissão médica. Com a rápida percepção de que ele não desejava seguir os passos profissionais de seus pais, Benchimol seguiu adiante em seu próprio caminho. Inspirado depois de assistir a uma palestra do banqueiro de investimento Luiz Cesar Fernandes, Benchimol reconheceu sua paixão pelo comércio e pelo investimento financeiro. Altamente qualificado e academicamente bem-sucedido em matemática, o crescente interesse de Benchimol se alinhava lindamente com suas proezas acadêmicas.


Depois de se formar na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro em 1999, com Bacharelado em Economia, Benchimol começou a trabalhar como estagiário em uma corretora de valores. Após essa tarefa inicial, Benchimol passou a trabalhar para mais duas corretoras. Embora ele tenha se destacado em ambas as tarefas, ele foi dispensado de sua primeira posição como resultado das mudanças contínuas na empresa. Temendo os vastos efeitos negativos resultantes da perda do emprego mais uma vez, ele decidiu que a única maneira de garantir seu futuro profissional em sua capacidade particularmente desejada seria instalar-se de forma independente, em vez de trabalhar continuamente para outra pessoa.


Armado com uma missão profissional, Benchimol abriu seu primeiro escritório de agentes em Porto Alegre em 2001. Juntamente com um co-fundador, a dupla comprou dez computadores usados ​​anteriormente e alugou um espaço de 25 metros quadrados para abrigar suas humildes operações. Benchimol teve como objetivo fornecer oportunidades de investimento válidas, frutíferas e valiosas para investidores iniciantes, sem as vastas taxas de corretagem associadas ao investimento nas grandes instituições financeiras do país. Ao atingir o público de classe média, Benchimol rapidamente percebeu que a grande maioria dos indivíduos estava interessada nos mercados monetários, mas não tinha muita instrução em relação às melhores práticas ou mesmo por onde começar. Com o desejo de capacitar o consumidor médio de investimentos, Benchimol começou a sediar seminários informativos, na esperança de educar investidores iniciantes e aumentar o conhecimento sobre os benefícios de investir fora do escopo tradicional dos bancos, uma prática amplamente utilizada pela maioria dos investidores brasileiros.


Sua empresa, o XP Inc, rapidamente recebeu apoio de investidores locais, quando as pessoas começaram a procurar opções alternativas de investimento. Por meio da educação e capacitação contínuas, Benchimol alterou o paradigma tradicional de investimento e obteve sucesso com o modelo de visão de futuro do XP Inc. Como era sua paixão profissional desde tenra idade, Benchimol dedicou grandes quantidades de tempo ao desenvolvimento de relacionamentos confiáveis ​​de longo prazo com os clientes e ao desenvolvimento de funcionários integrados para atuar em seu nome de uma maneira que valorize a ética nos negócios, a comunicação interpessoal e o empoderamento pessoal.


Com a manifestação da sua própria empresa, Benchimol foi capaz não apenas de garantir seu próprio futuro profissional, como gerar o tipo preciso de ambiente profissional que promoveu os sonhos profissionais dos membros de sua equipe. Por sua vez, isso fez do XP Inc um local de trabalho altamente cobiçado, com muitos profissionais financeiros talentosos buscando emprego remunerado na empresa de Benchimol em constante crescimento.


Com o crescimento contínuo, o XP Inc começou a chamar a atenção de profissionais de investimentos em larga escala que buscam alavancar o modelo de negócios do XP Inc com visão de futuro, em vez de investimentos bancários tradicionais. Atualmente, mais de 40.000 contas do XP Inc detêm mais de US$1 milhão em capital de investimento cada. Desses clientes, mais de 5.000 contas possuem mais de US$10 milhões em capital investido. Esses números surpreendentes são indicativos do comprometimento da empresa com investimentos frutíferos e do comprometimento pessoal de Benchimol em liderar e manter o tipo de empresa que proporciona benefícios a longo prazo para todas as partes envolvidas. Com um crescimento tão constante nos investimentos de margem mais alta, Benchimol reconheceu a oportunidade de criar uma subseção especializada da empresa, chamada XP Private. Nesta seção de nicho do XP Inc, o foco está no atendimento à clientela com maior potencial de investimento e no aumento do rendimento do investimento a longo prazo.


Durante essas fases de crescimento, Benchimol procurou aumentar proativamente a infraestrutura necessária para apoiar sua empresa, equipe e clientes. Desenvolvendo escritórios em Londres, Genebra, Miami e Nova York, o XP Inc expandiu-se para atender às necessidades específicas associadas ao crescimento contínuo, atendendo à base de clientes com uma mentalidade sob medida para o cliente, que separou o XP Inc de outras casas de investimento. Escalando com sucesso, o XP Inc já atendeu a mais de 800.000 clientes individuais de investimento e conquistou um portfólio de mais de US$200 bilhões em capital de investimento.


Para Benchimol, esse sucesso suado conquistou um lugar na lista da Bloomberg das 50 principais pessoas influentes do mundo em 2018, solidificando ainda mais sua presença no mundo financeiro. Ao se arriscar na construção de seu próprio destino profissional, Benchimol conseguiu não apenas solidificar seu lugar no mundo das finanças, como também ajudar centenas de milhares de pessoas com a educação necessária para capacitar potenciais investidores, transformando-os em investidores mais experientes e agressivos no processo. Partindo para trabalhar de forma independente e em seus próprios termos, Benchimol criou um império baseado em seu desejo de manter um emprego remunerado no setor financeiro. Ao longo de seus negócios, ele modernizou com sucesso a estrutura de investimentos do Brasil e mudou a maneira como as pessoas veem os mercados financeiros.


Ben Melkman Established Light Sky Macro After Stellar Career With Major Financial Firms

December 16, 2019 - By 

A graduate of the London School of Economics and Politics, Ben Melkman set out after earning his degree with honors to make waves in the world of high finance. Among his first positions was with Deutsche Bank in 2003. After gaining invaluable investment banking experience with Deutsche, he accepted a position with Morgan Stanley. There he would earn a reputation as a man who understood the complexities of managing money for a world-class financial institution. read more


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