Jude Dobson’s daughter Ella is up for an Emmy!

"People say to me, 'You're so lucky!'... yes, luck plays a part, but I feel like you have to put a million things out there to get one back," says the talented animator.
Loading the player...

At 24 years old, Ella Dobson is already truly making her mark on this world.

The Auckland animator already has a slew of awards under her belt (including a prestigious D&AD Next Animator award – it’s almost like an Oscar in her field!) and this month one of her projects she worked on is up for a News and Documentary Emmy Award.

Not a bad accomplishment for a recent graduate!

After finishing her degree in 2016 (a year of which she spent on an international exchange in Vermont, USA), Ella spent 2017 working at an animation studio in Sydney before leaving for the US on a year-long work visa.

Ella kept her eyes peeled and submitted applications in as many directions as she could, before landing an incredible project with The New York Times.

“People sometimes say to me, ‘You’re so lucky!’ and yes, luck plays a part in it, but I feel like you have to put a million things out there to get one back,” she tells.

“People don’t see all the work you put in and the things that didn’t work out.”

This girl is going places! Ella in Cannes.

Her hard work certainly paid off and she was asked by the Times to work on an episode in their second installment of Conception – a series which explores what it is to be a parent in today’s world.

Ella’s episode was titled ‘When Your Child’s Bogeyman is Real,’ and told the true story of a woman who was at Virginia Tech in 2007 when one of the world’s worst school shootings took place.

She now has children of her own and has never told them about what happened that hideous day, although they still call Virginia home.

But after her son heard about the Parkland shooting, even without knowing what happened in his hometown,

he began feeling very fearful – particularly being in open spaces.

His mother Melissa, who voices the short episode in her own words, worries deeply about her children and wonders, will her son ever escape his fear?

(Screenshot from The New York Times’ ‘When Your Child’s Bogeyman Is Real’,Conception Season II. Animator: Ella Dobson. Producer: Margaret Cheatham)

It was a heavy, emotional and quite confronting story for Ella to bring to life.

She used 2D animation to illustrate the story and communicate the mother’s anguish while bringing to life her son’s fears, which included creating a visual representation of the insidious monster that existed in his head, nicknamed ‘Socks’.

“I felt so privileged to work on her story,” tells Ella, who was finally able to meet Melissa at the launch of the series.

“It was the coolest experience getting to meet her and talk to her about it. She was there with others who had lost family members in mass shootings and when we talked about me being from New Zealand, they all praised NZ for our gun laws and how peaceful NZ was.”

The premiere took place in November 2018, and it was with horror that Ella learnt a shooting – the March 15 mosque attacks – had happened in her home country.

“When I came back to New Zealand, it was weird, sad and surreal to come home, having it happen here.”

Proud mum Jude is more than happy to share the limelight.

While we have our fingers crossed for an Emmy win, Ella has plenty on her plate as she’s now busy freelancing from home in Aotearoa for big international clients.

One of her current projects is creating an animation for a new Netflix series called Soundtrack, which is in production with 20th Century Fox.

Ella has big goals and is excited about furthering her career. And she has plenty of support from her proud-as- punch family, which includes her mum Jude Dobson.

The Weekly columnist’s always been her girl’s biggest cheerleader, and Ella was thrilled to return the favour this year when she attended live shows as Jude competed in Dancing with the Stars.

So far, Ella hasn’t been tempted to be in front of the camera, but she’s thoroughly enjoying being able to make a career out of her lifelong love of drawing. And her family couldn’t be more proud to watch as she draws out a stellar international career!

To watch Ella’s episode of Conception, head to

Related stories