How ‘The Jetsons’ prepared Cartoon Network’s Christina Miller in art and tech
“This day is exactly why we at Cartoon Network committed ourselves to encouraging kids to explore coding and the intersection of creativity and technology,” Christina Miller, president and general manager for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang recently shared during an event where the network invited 45 teenage girls from Black Girls Code; along with Made With Code; and the mayor of East Point, Georgia, Jannquell Peters to Turner Studios in Atlanta for a special event launching GIF: The Powerpuff Girls.
The event co-hosted by Google is where Miller was able to see her vision in action. When she was appointed president and general manager in 2014, she was committed to take the first all-animated network to new heights.
During our recent interview, Miller shares her backstory and how fascinated she is with how intuitive kids are when it comes to technology. –carles summerour
Why is this type of community partnership important to Cartoon Network?
For a few reasons, we believe coding is becoming a natural part of our audience’s lives. Having choices of language to learn or going from print to script, and realizing it’s just a normal part of growing up. A lot of people talk about STEM, the science and engineering side of it. And our take on it is believing art is just as critical. Making our audience aware and not afraid of coding, so they will experience the levels in becoming an animator if one wanted to be. Once you learn code, you can communicate and solve problems in a different way. And that will go with you the rest of your life.
So what exactly is your background, in terms of working your way to your current position at Cartoon Network?
I started at Cartoon Network about 11 years ago. I was brought on to start the consumer products division. So anyway you interacted with Cartoon Network off screen, from clothing, books, toys, etc… I did that for about four or five years. Somewhere in between there I wandered my way into sports, doing marketing, programming and strategy. Also, Turner has a joint venture with the NBA to run all their media assets. I went to run digital products for NBA TV. At that time, I did social media and other elements there for five years before coming back to this side of the business. Just under two years ago, I came back to this side of the business and jumped in with both feet.
Going back to when you first came to Turner 11 years ago, would you have ever thought we would be here with technology?
No, not at all. I grew up watching the Jetsons, and that was this super futuristic thing and now I can just look outside my window and almost see anybody flying in a spaceship or having a robot. What I find really interesting is the fast rate in which things have changed. For everything cartoons gave me early, about understanding what’s now millennials, and really getting that and taking it to sports, has really helped me. All these experiences have helped me with the way I frame myself when thinking about digital and technology. Seeing these kids today naturally: drag, drop, click, code, this all makes the original process to get and send pictures so much faster. It is indeed scary, the rate it changes, and how it impacts our lives. But for us, we find that comfortable intersection between art and technology, it’s what we find inspiring.