Being Outreach Director for DNEG Animation

With Dara McGarry

“I have been in the industry for over 25 years and I feel that it’s important, now more than ever, for women to come together, empower each other, and become a force.”


Dara McGarry is Outreach Director at DNEG Animation in London, chair of the dnWomen group – DNEG’s employee-led group supporting women – creator of the ‘Our Stories’ series, and Queen of our annual Halloween costume competition (scroll down to see some of her amazing costumes!). Over her career she’s held many different roles from production, to artist and management, and even voiced characters in movies like Meet the Robinsons and Frozen. Keep on reading to find out more about her career, her commitment towards women in the industry and some of her favourite memories at DNEG (spoiler alert, it includes a DJ booth set up in one of the lifts at our London studio).

Hi Dara! What brought you into the world of VFX and Animation? 

I started in 1997 in Los Angeles at Disney – I joined as a Production Assistant on Dinosaur. I had initially moved to L.A to pursue a career in acting and fell into the world of movie making instead. I stayed at Disney for about 14 years and had many different roles from Production to FX TD (my favourite job ever, so creative), even as a voice actress! I voiced characters in Bolt, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinson, even Frozen (my proudest moment to date!).

In 2010 I crossed the pond and started at DNEG in London as an Artist Manager for VFX at first, then for DNEG Animation. From there I became Head of Operations for DNEG Animation and now I am Outreach Director.

What is your day-to-day like as an Outreach Director?

I meet often with my team – they are based in Canada and the US. We collaborate on almost everything we do, which I love. We think out loud and bounce ideas off each other, and I’m so grateful to have a team that works that way. Another part of my day is focused on looking at UK schools and the outreach we can provide for them. I also plan events like Annecy Festival which I work on really closely with recruitment, and on initiatives to boost our culture internally.

What do you like the most about your job?

Inspiring people. I love helping guide people to achieve their goals, to sometimes act as a sounding board, and to inspire them in that way.

For instance, we recently had a 15 years old join the DNEG Animation team in London for a week for work experience. She was a great kid, I mean she really picked up everything, she was a sponge. She said it had been the best week of her life and sent me a thank you letter with a poem – it was really touching. And to know that I helped – with a lot of other people! – making a positive impact on this one individual’s life, that’s what I love about my job.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?

Always follow your passion. Find what energises you. Find the thing that when you’re doing it you lose track of time, that no matter how tired you are you’ll happily stay up a little bit later just to do it. And once you find out what that is, then there are ways to leverage that into an actual job. Just keep nurturing it.

You are the chair of DNEG’s dnWomen group, you are also the Animation Chair for Animated Women UK – can you talk about your commitment towards women in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 25 years and I feel that it’s important, now more than ever, for women to come together, empower each other, and become a force. I want to change the narrative around women in VFX and Animation, and challenge the status quo. With DNEG’s dnWomen group we’re aiming at creating not only a discussion group, but also to educate, empower and connect people identifying as women and allies, and be an agent of change. I get so inspired and motivated every time we regroup.

Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s your ‘special power’ at work? 

Talking to people!

What are you most looking forward to every day?

Finding an unexpected moment of magic. It can be through having a conversation with somebody, or hearing a song you haven’t heard in years and it reminds you of your best friend that you really should call, or something entirely different. There are magical moments every single day, and what’s exciting is, I don’t know what they’re going to be.

Do you remember how you felt on your first day at DNEG?

I do, yes! I was late to the orientation because I got lost… I had just moved to London, knew about four people on the entire island. I guess you could sum that up by saying discombobulated!

What’s your best memory so far at DNEG?

I’ve got so many! When a DJ booth was set up in one of the lifts at our London studio – that was pure genius! The first time I held an Oscar after Inception… and a BAFTA! And of course, DNEG’s Halloween costume competition!

Finish this sentence: DNEG is…

Family, where you can be expressive, creative and collaborative.


To find out more about dnWomen and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at DNEG, click here. Interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team? Stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.




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