Maggie Salas-Amaro of Canela Kids: One of my greatest achievements is the creation of the animated series SúperEllas

March 6, 2024

Maribel Ramos-Weiner

Salas-Amaro has been one of the executives responsible for the production of SúperEllas´new episodes since 2023

For Maggie Salas-Amaro, director of Canela Kids, one of her greatest achievements in animation was in 2022 when, upon joining the company, she was asked to suggest a format, and she immediately thought of stories about Latin women. “Coincidentally, searching for the concept, they showed us a project with some of those elements that have been modified. In this process, the animated series SúperEllas was born, which was recognized with four nominations and two awards. I have been one of the executives responsible for the production of new episodes since 2023,” she says with satisfaction.

She said that her beginnings in the industry were easier than women before her, whether as producers, creators, or entertainers. She began doing animation with Nickelodeon Latin America, where she was part of the founding team in 1996 and had the opportunity to work on international projects such as the selection of presenter Steve in Blues Clues and the editorial content of Dora, the Explorer. “These were shows sold worldwide and then produced with local versions,” she noted.

Currently, as director of Canela Kids, she oversees all aspects of the production of SúperEllas and is the executive producer of its upcoming new episodes.

Salas highlighted that for a long time, men dominated the animation industry. “Currently there are still companies with few women in animation studios.”

She noted that The Walt Disney Company was among the first to have women in prominent positions, “Bianca Majolie was the first woman hired for Walt Disney’s Story Department. Retta Scott was the first woman credited in an animated film and the first woman to animate for Disney. Mary Blair is another of the most famous women who worked for Disney. She worked on the concept art for The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, Alice and Wonderland, and, most famously, Peter Pan. She also designed the It’s a Small World attraction at Disney Parks. One of my favorites is Arlene Klasky, one of the creators of the famous series Rugrats, produced by Nickelodeon, and I greatly admire her for creating such a fun and, at the same time, relevant program with children and its universal themes.

Regarding the evolution of the animation industry, Salas said that animation takes much longer than we think. “The Phenakistiscope was the first real animation device discovered by Joseph Plateau in 1832,” she noted.

Many new and dynamic techniques exist today, including the famous 3D, 2D, cut-outs, and motion graphics, which continue to evolve with the technology.

She said that today, more female characters are stars in the animation “beyond Cinderella.”

She noted she would like to see more central female characters in Pixar animations. “I think that a female perspective when making decisions is crucial. For example, I mention several pioneering women from Disney studios and properties like Alice and Cinderella; I think a female point of view and experience was very valuable in the content and style of those classic productions.”

Before joining Canela Media, Salas worked for some of the most successful brands in the world, including Viacom, The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, FOX, Univision, and ¡HOLA! TV, where she led the content strategy.

As director of Canela Kids, Salas oversees Canela Media’s kids and family content portfolio, including the development and production of originals and co-productions featuring educational and family content that celebrates Hispanic culture.

She was key in launching the Canela Kids mobile application and seven FAST channels in the US and Latin America, with content from Mattel, Moonbug, Wildbrain, Nelvana, and local productions.

She is a frequent speaker about the transformation of television, content, and emerging media. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix and as an adjunct professor of Journalism and Media at Florida International University (FIU). She has been recognized by Cynopsis Media as Top Women Media and as an Honorary Member of the Worldwide Women’s Audiovisual Association (WAWA) for her contributions to media. Since 2021, she has produced and co-hosted a podcast for FIU, Tech Conversations.