ABA creators Shawnelle Gibbs (l) and Shawnee Gibbs (r) Photo: Saida Nassirruddin


When Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs set their minds to do something it usually gets done. They've always been an unconventional pair; as early as infancy the two were in 'a world of their own.' While other toddlers were impressing parents with their ability to say 'mamma' and 'dadda', Shawnee and Shawnelle were conversing in their own 'special' language. Early recordings find the two sounding like baby aliens! The young Giblets were likely discussing their long and tiring trip from Planet Z!


Shawnee Gibbs (on Adopted By Aliens):

Since I'm the oldest, I get to go first. Ha!

Adopted By Aliens was Shawnelle's idea. We've got notebooks and notebooks of story ideas that have never seen the light of day, but ABA was something special. We just began developing the premise of the series and it was hilarious--we couldn't stop! [We were really ambitious considering that neither of us has a formal animation background. Though we've gone to film school and know the process of creating films, animation is a bird of another feather].The characters kept coming, the story ideas kept coming, we were doodling and laughing and arguing and fighting...ahem...the wonderful world of working with family.

We've always been passionate dreamers and being such, we never questioned whether or not things would happen. We've been naive enough to actually believe that the sky is the limit, and that hard work occasionally pays off. As kids no one ever told us that we couldn't succeed at whatever we wanted to do. If we told our mother today that we planned on being circus trapeze artists, she'd probably wish us well, knowing we'd give it everything we had.

Animation is hard work! I can't call anyone over and tell them to bring the props. I've gotta create them. No cameraman, no hair and makeup artists, nada. Shawnelle and I had to create everything from the ground up. It's been challenging, rewarding, and even a little life-altering. I don't have any kids but just creating Whitney and her gang and seeing them through their problems, makes me feel like a 'mother' in a strange way. With all the LABOR put into this project, I can certainly call it my 'baby,' so you'd better not say it's ugly! :)


Shawnelle Gibbs (on Adopted By Aliens):

I've always considered us to be "Idea People."

Ever since we were young, whether we were the "rescue ranger team" comprised of the two of us and various cousins aligned to fight crime in the neighborhood, or selling toys, baseball cards and candy under our "big business" moniker, we were always brainstorming and re-evaluating our purpose for being on this earth.

Like all of our narrative projects, with ABA, we wanted a didactic story, a way to reach (particularly young) people with a tale that had texture and meaning. We certainly wanted to find a way to bypass the filmmaker's traditional festival route, which has often proved to be more hassle than it's worth. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the web was our most feasible form of distribution.

And then there was Whitney. A little girl with a global-sized problem, who's story, in our opinion, was just itching to be told. I fell in love with her the moment we began sketching her likeness, and like a loving parent, have been working to nurture and protect her since the day of her conception.

Because we've decided (again) to go TOTALLY independent with this project, long hours, ailing social lives and stressed out appearances have plagued us for the past few months. Or is it years?

There's been days when, after my foot has gone to sleep before I have at three o'clock in the morning, I've questioned why I continue to press forward.

"For Whitney!" comes the answer. And for all the girls that believe they're too small for the world when they are, indeed, larger than the universe.


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