As a kid growing up in the desert town of Hesperia, California, Samantha Wilkins surrounded herself with Sci-fi books and art novels, played video games and spent most of her time watching movies. During school breaks, Samatha lived with her grandparents in East Los Angeles. Splitting time between Hesperia and East L.A. gave Samantha a chance to experience different friend groups, city life and long car rides spent reading Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl.
Her mom worked as a video store manager, which opened Sam’s eyes to the world of children’s movies and video games. Hayao Miyazak’s “My Neighbor Totoro” struck a creative cord in Sam, and she developed a fascination with fantasy and nature. Those early interests would later manifest into Samantha’s love of animation and career as an art supervisor.
The L.A. Film School Connection
Sam knew she wanted to pursue character animation at The Los Angeles Film School. Once she started taking classes, Samantha realized she didn’t enjoy certain aspects of character animation. That lead her to lean on instructors for guidance and opened up an opportunity to learn more about 3D modeling. Samantha earned her degree from the Animation Program and got hired as a runner with The Mill.
“It was a little frightening to take my first step outside of The Los Angeles Film School. I think it’s because in this industry, it’s very much a gig kind of industry and not just a full-time 9-to-5 work schedule. I was very thankful for the Career Development department to help me find leads and internships.”
When Samantha got hired at The Mill, she was able to train with artists on projects after her shifts as a runner. She worked well with other departments and helped them as needed with project management and sourcing prop assets for games. This opened up opportunities to take on bigger projects during her five-year tenure and eventually work on Apex Legends cinematic trailers and her first Super Bowl commercial for Tide.
What is Samantha Wilkins up to Now?
Samantha currently works at Riot Games in Los Angeles. Her responsibilities and talent transitioned seamlessly from VFX to video games as she joined Riot Games as an Art Outsource Supervisor for VALORANT, the now top trending FPS tactical hero shooter game. In 2023, The L.A. Film School nominated Samantha for the Spotlight Academy where she will be inducted on June 29, 2023, in a live ceremony at Ivar Theatre.