Shadi Petosky of Danger & Eggs
How did you get into animation? Was it something you wanted to do as a child?
I loved animation as a kid but really wanted to get into comic books. I was a bit discouraged trying to be a cartoonist after high school, and got into computer programming and doing some animation for games. This ultimately led to my studio hiring animators and getting more serious about it... Animation came as a bit of surprise after doing it on Yo Gabba Gabba! and that show becoming a huge hit.
You are a producer, actress, writer, and animator. Which one came first?
I'm very performative. If I wasn't trans I'd have gotten into acting and continued doing stand up. The behind the camera stuff came as a result of wanting to be creative but not feeling like there was a future in being seen. Producing came easy, I managed a Taco Johns at 17, and started reading a lot of management books to do that job well. At this point I am a writer and executive producer, but the writer part is really just writing down performances. I do the voices and improv in the room and capture what I like.
For Danger and Eggs, how did you decide who to work with? Was it organic or did you pick?
We had a few key people I've worked with for a decade. My partner Mike Owens originated [the character] 'Phillip', and Eric Knobel developed that voice and helped us sell him... We all had similar politic and points of view around the types of skills and lived experiences we wanted to hire. Some people were Amazon's A-Team but mostly it was an existing network of folks we loved.
You have done cartoons for children in the past as well; why a cartoon for children and not for adults?
Danger & Eggs started out as a cartoon for adults and I would love to work on grown-up stuff. Hollywood likes to pigeonhole you a bit. I tried out as a writer on Transparent and they said they couldn't hire a person from "other areas of the industry." We have a great reputation in the "kid space" so things come a bit easier there... There aren't a lot of venues, and the ones that are there are very male crew and male audience-driven. Total boy's club. Kids is changing much faster.
How was the process of coming up with the main characters? Where did the names come from?
D.D.'s name is Danger Delano Danger. Danger is NOT her middle name. Some of the other names are people we love or temp script names that stick. Duncan probably came because I was doing a show with Duncan Trussel at the same time. Lydia is Lydia Hearst, basically because I want her to guest star if we ever show that character.
Any hidden symbols in the show?
If you watch in reverse you will understand the New World Order. No. We really wanted to get around the metaphors and hidden symbology and be overt. In the pride festival we have actual pride, trans, agender, asexual, pansexual flags. I feel like shows for kids have a long history of "that blue monster you thought was scary was actually nice!!!" but it hasn't done a lot to end systemic oppression. So we wanted to be overt. This is a black girl with black girl magic based on a black girl we cast. Being overt was so important.
What is the main message you want to portray with Danger & Eggs?
Weirdly, the thing I want to take away is that it's really funny. I also want to show that the atypical is great.
How is it being a transgender woman in the television industry?
Four years ago I spent a lot of time crying. People doing trans show without trans people. Watching Jared Leto give misogynistic Golden Globes speeches after playing a trans woman and winning gold from it. It's getting a lot better. Janet Mock's #girlslikeus movement helped us connect and plan and support each other. Casting directors are starting to fear being "Matt Bomered" and hopefully we'll be included in our own cultural stories and beyond. There are enough people with some success now that you can a least see positive examples and hope comes easier. We don't have to explain what we are when we walk into every room. Maybe half the rooms.
What about the incident on the airplane? It was covered a lot! How did that affect you and how do you think we can educate our government facilities such as airports, about transgender people?
When I lost my laptop? I got it back! No, the publicity around the TSA thing got congressional support and drug that TSA through investigations. The congressional letter was super smart and really "got it" with trans issues. It was a huge sign that the Democratic party really had the language and understanding about trans lives and experiences. A bill was introduced to change the TSA but it won't move in Trump's America. I don't know if we can educate the TSA very well. They try but the turnover in that job is bananas. It's like the Federal Employment McDonalds. The policies are better but mistakes will be made.
How was it working with Jazz Jennings? I’ve been following her career since she started!
She's a talented angel. She can act and sing and is a total goofball. I think she burped between half the takes for fun. She's so self confident and powerful. I'd love to have her in future shows in any role. She's got skills!
Favorite episode and why?
'Broccoli' made me laugh the most because Kate Berlant's real estate agent steals the show but I love 'Trading Post'. I think it was creatively collaborative and the art is just so dense and good. Kimberly Brooks and Dannah Phirman played all the kids and killed it. It's a smart episode with a fun plot, and I genuinely cried when Phillip had to come out around his secret.
Is there a second season coming?
Not that I know of. Amazon said they have to see how it does but we don't see numbers or anything. It's all trade secrets. I've started working with Julia Vickerman on her awesome show Twelve Forever but am definitely down for more Danger & Eggs. Eric and Laura Zak are working on some Amazon Rapids stories so there is a bit more to see. Rate it and bug Amazon please!
Any negative reviews?
Um. Not that I've seen? There are some negative customer reviews and troll sites are calling us "Social Justice Warriors" like it's a bad thing... but mostly people are being super nice. People seemed to be stoked about the inclusion and queer stuff, but I also get really excited that people are calling us smart and funny and my favorite compliment is "not too heavy-handed." Whew.