The Mom talks with… Shimmer & Shine creator Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz
Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz is living proof that wishes can come true at the Nick Animation Studio. While working as a Post-Production Supervisor on pre-school series Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!, Farnaz dreamed of making her own pre-school series. And that dream came true! She created and produces the popular Nickelodeon series Shimmer and Shine. Inspired by her Iranian-American upbringing, she wanted the series to have strong female heroes set against a vibrant multicultural fantasy world.
As a mother of two young kids, Farnaz sees the importance of empowering children with an understanding of resilience. Through the series, kids see that even though the outcome may not be exactly what they wished for, there is always a way to figure things out!
This week Farnaz visited The Netherlands with her Shimmer and Shine press tour and we had a very special Q&A with this amazing mom.
You’re living every girl’s dream. At what age did you find out you wanted to do something with your creativity?
I’ve known that I wanted to do something in the world of art and creativity my whole life. If it wasn’t animation I would’ve gone into fashion design.
Getting to do Shimmer and Shine has been a dream come true. When I was asked first pitch it, I told them that it would be a dream to even get to work as a post supervisor on something like this. Now I get to make an amazing imaginary world for little kids all across the world
Shimmer and Shine are big heroes for many young kids. Are your kids their biggest fans?
My kids are always the first to spot out any kids carrying Shimmer and Shine backpacks or toys when we’re out walking in the streets and they get so excited to show me. They feel proud of their mom and tell me “mom it’s pretty cool you have fans”.
Did you get inspiration from your own kids while making the show?
Yes, they inspire me every single day. From catchphrases that come straight from my daughter’s mouth to them pitching me story ideas. The base of the idea for Shimmer and Shine came from me observing my own children and learning what is funny to them. I developed the rest of the concept based on those findings. I think that really helped to connect the characters to the young audience.
At what time of the process do they get to see the show? Are they critical when they watch a new episode?
They usually watch the various stages with me when I do reviews at home. They always give me their feedback.
What do you hope to teach kids when they watch Shimmer and Shine?
I want them to learn about resilience and perseverance, working together as a team and treating each other with kindness.
You grew up in the US, but you have Iranian roots. Which childhood traditions do you share with your kids?
We celebrate the Persian new year together. It’s a two week long process and they love it.
You are traveling a lot. How do you keep in touch with your kids while you are away from home?
We FaceTime and send pictures when we can. I also set up play dates with friends and family so they don’t feel alone while I’m gone.
How do you combine your career with your mommy life?
Lots of caffeine and very little sleep, haha! Be present when you’re there and work fast when you’re not so that you can get home sooner. I try to disconnect from work when I go home, so that I can really focus on being with my family when I’m there. And after any long work trip I try to take a day or two off to spend one on one time with just my kids and husband.
You’ve seen many places in the world. What’s your favorite destination for a family vacation?
I love Maui. Kids are safe, water is amazing and it’s complete relaxation.
Last but not least.. Can you share your ultimate mommy tip?
Although it sounds cliché I would say enjoy every phase because you will turn around and they will be grown. And above everything make sure that your kids know how much you love them each and every day.
We have a saying that I say to my kids since they were born: “Shaya is my heart and Samira is my soul and together they are every breath that I breathe.” I want them to know that even when I am away they are always with me.