Audu Paden

December 20 , 1963 to Present

Supervising Producer/Executive Producer at Mattel Entertainment

Bio Summary:
Audu Paden has been in the entertainment/animation industry for over twenty years and has successfully directed and produced over 200 hours of programming for TV. He has made fifteen CGI features including Stuart Little 3, Spider-man the animated series for MTV, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, The Simpsons, and others for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

Early Life/Family:
Born as John Edward Paden, Audu started his life in West Africa. As a child, Paden was a fan of animation as a medium for storytelling. He was voted as best cartoonist in his kindergarten class. He didn’t have television or radio as a kid growing up in West Africa, so he spent his time drawing and putting on shows for others. His father, an American, took him travelling to Greece, Asia, and many other countries abroad. This helped him to establish an understanding of multicultural storytelling for his early animation career. He got into theatre during his time at high school and college and after he got out of school he started working on live action movies such as “Back to the Future.” He was a director for stage plays and always was a cartoonist for political cartoons. He was the art director for Humor Magazine and had gotten into the role thanks to Tim Johnson with whom he assisted on a film at the time. At age 17, he painted cels and developed photographs in dormitory closet. He planned to do educational films of West Africa. After his schooling years, he answered an ad in Hollywood Reporter and started his professional portfolio which would land him a job on working on the ending episodes of “The Simpsons” second season. Soon after, he became assistant storyboard director for the pilot episode to the show “The Rugrats.” Afterwards, he had a six year gig working at Warner Bros as storyboard artist, writer, and director. During the period of working on shows such as “Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs” his boss was Steven Spielberg, who was the executive producer of these shows. Paden moved on from Warner Bros to work for Sony Pictures, then called Columbia Tri Star, where he did animated series associated with big motion pictures such as “Godzilla”, “Ghostbusters”, “Spider-man”, and “Starship Troopers.” He learned about CGI through his work on the animated show “Starship Troopers” and furthered his knowledge when working on “Stuart Little 3.” He went to Nickelodeon where he produced for a few years and then finally got hired into Mattel where he became a producer for the shows “Hot Wheels” and “Max Steel.” He also is the writer/producer to the Netflix original series “Monster High” and “Ever After High” which is now his current project. He is married and his wife went to Cal State University Fullerton and then to Art Center Pasadena, where his daughter also went 30 years later.

Paden has done development and management in animation including storyboard, design, and voice direction. He has done strategic planning, studio scouting, and resource analysis. Furthermore, he has done coordination with marketing and product planning teams. He studied at UCLA where he directed stage plays.

Career Outline:
From 1989 – 1990, Paden has done freelance and live action storyboards for commercials, shorts, and theme park rides. Afterwards, he started doing storyboarding for popular television shows such as Rugrats, The Simpsons, Warner Bros Animation, and Taz-mania. During this time, he also became the director to Warner Bros Animation (from 1991 – 1996) and directed other cartoon shows such as Pinky and the Brain (1994 – 1996), Animaniacs (1993 – 1996), and Tiny Toon Adventures (1994 – 1996). Following his directing, he became a Supervising Producer, and Co-Exec Producer for the following television shows: Project Geeker (1996 – 1997), Extreme Ghostbusters (1997 – 1998), Godzilla – The Animated Series (1998 – 1999), Roughnecks: A Starship Troopers Chronicle (1999 – 2000), Heavy Gear (2000 – 2001), Spider-Man (2001 – 2003), and Columbia Tristar Children’s Television (1996 – 2005). Afterwards, Paden worked on the motion picture “Stuart Little 3” as a director for Sony Pictures. He headed the story for this sequel and then moved on to becoming a Supervising Producer to Nickelodeon Animation Studios from April 2005 – August 2007. His career would finally lead him to his current profession of being the Supervising Producer/Executive Producer and Senior Director Entertainment Development for Mattel. He was the Development Supervisor and Supervising Producer of “Hot Wheels, Battle Force 5”, the Writer/Supervising Producer/Director and Executive Producer of “Max Steel”, the Writer/Executive Producer/Director of “Monster High” and “Even After High”, the Development/Supervising Producer of the CGI “Big Rig Buddies”, and the Writer/Supervising Producer of “Polly Pocket.”

Comments On Style:
Paden believes as a director one must have a chameleon of style meaning each project (animation) has to be distinct and different. He stated in the interview that “mixing up a magic recipe of artists, writers, producers who will work well together is the formula needed to make an original, unique animated project.”

Paden was influenced by Chuck Jones, who he got to work with briefly during his time at UCLA in workshops when Jones came to lecture. During his time at Warner Bros, Paden was taught old, lost talents from 1930s crew animators such as exposure sheets, comedy timing, performance tips, and character reactions

Paden is a boisterous, creative, and friendly person, always open to share who he is and is pleasant to converse with. He is essentially happy with his profession as he gets to travel the world and meet “extraordinary people”

Anecdotes (Interview with Audu Paden):
Paden got to work with directing Bugs Bunny very early on in 1991 - 1992. When Paden was doing “Animaniacs”, Spielberg was doing Schiendler’s List. Paden and his crew would send Spielberg some rough-cut animation that Spielberg would screen at end of day to cheer up the cast and crew of “Schiendler’s List.” (The cast and crew were hard-pressed after a long day spent in simulations of concentration camps.) Paden also made the first female ghostbuster in the 1997 show “Extreme Ghostbusters”. During a Radio City Music Hall Broadcast of Emmys 1996, Elmo, the presenter played by Kevin Clash, is in distress after cutting his arm on podium. Paden and his crew had won and got up on the stage to collect award when Paden notices that Kevin is in peril. Paden, along with Mr. Rogers, go in to assist Elmo (Kevin) giving him first aid. Regis Philben and the Radio City Music Hall also lent a hand to help Kevin. Paden stated that it was a “very surreal moment.”

Anecdotes on Audu Paden by Ira Singerman:
“Audu and I got to work on Hot Wheels Battle Force Five for two seasons. We helped create it alongside toy design team. There was a sad story of a boy who watched the show, but he passed away and Audu and I animated, or at least did a character design of the kid. Audu brought the picture to the kid’s parents. We dedicated an episode to the boy who passed away. This story showed how meaningful the shows Audu and I made were to kids, so much so that the kid’s parents reached out to us. When we both started at Mattel around same time, we started making the series “Monster High” where we decided not to do a full fledge show series. Instead, we did short series in Flash Animation, a 2D vector base software, very quickly. This series went up on Youtube and on our website. This helped focus us and let us understand the stuff people liked and didn’t like because we read comments people made on the videos on Youtube. When Audu and I first started out, we worked for real tough boss who didn’t really know what he wanted. This was before “Monster High” came out. Our boss couldn’t settle on a writer and couldn’t make a final decision. Audu and I had to write stories ourselves. We went to a coffee shop somewhere in the deep valley and wrote the first six to ten episodes of Monster High. Audu has been around in business a lot longer than I have. We started with boy adventure shows and then moved on to making more shows made for girls. Audu and I were asked how middle-aged men like ourselves know what girls want and the answer was good storytelling which will always transcend gender/genre. Another story is that Audu likes to perform and likes to participate in our voice acting roles and what Audu made me do was get behind the mic and get into the recording booth myself and made me play some (uncomfortable) roles. This was an uncomfortable, but very worthwhile experience.”

Paden is working on his current project for Netflix series “Ever After High” and does all voice acting for “Monster High” and “Ever After High”, both of which are Netflix original series. One character is a zombie girl that is not translated so he voices this character for every language.

Animaniacs (1993 – 1997)
Pinky and the Brain (1995 – 1996)
Project G.e.e.K.e.R. (1996)
Extreme Ghostbusters (1997)
Godzilla: The Series (1998 – 2000)
Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles (1999 – 2000)
Heavy Gear: The Animated Series (2001)
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2005)
Tak & the Power of Juju (2007)
Max Steel: Bio Crisis (2008)
Max Steel vs The Mutant Menace (2009)
Monster High: New Ghoul at School (2010)
Max Steel vs The Toxic Legion (2010)
Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 (2009 – 2011)
Hot Wheel Battle Force 5: Full Revolution (2012)
Max Steel (2013 – 2014)

6 emmy nominations – 2 wins. Won Mit Jr – award given in Cannas, France (broadcaster’s award) Gemani award – for best program in Canada (boy’s action show “Hot Wheels Battleforce 5” Media Access Awards – for Ghostbusters

Related Links: Audu Paden

Bibliographic References:

Contributors To This Listing:
Audu Paden
Ira Singerman – Senior Manager & Supervising Producer of Mattel
Wesley Elliott

Animators Hall of Fame