Rebecca Sugar

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Rebecca Sugar
Rebecca Sugar Speaking at New York Comic Con 2014 - Peter Dzubay (cropped).jpeg
Sugar at the 2014 New York Comic Con
Rebecca Rea Sugar

(1987-07-09) July 9, 1987 (age 35)
Alma materSchool of Visual Arts
  • Animator
  • storyboard artist
  • director
  • writer
  • producer
  • songwriter
Years active2008−present
Known forSteven Universe
(m. 2019)

Rebecca Rea Sugar (born July 9, 1987) is an American animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and singer-songwriter. She[a] is best known for being the creator of the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe, making her the first non-binary person to independently create a series for the network.[1][b] Until 2013, Sugar was a writer and storyboard artist on the animated television series Adventure Time. Her work on the two series has earned her seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations.[3] Sugar is bisexual, non-binary, and genderqueer,[4] using both she/her and they/them pronouns.[5] Sugar's queerness has served as the inspiration for her to stress the importance of LGBT representation in the arts, especially in children's entertainment.[6]

Early life[edit]

Sugar was raised in the Sligo Park Hills area of Silver Spring, Maryland. She simultaneously attended Montgomery Blair High School and the Visual Arts Center at Albert Einstein High School[7] (where she was an arts semifinalist in the Presidential Scholar competition,[8] and won Montgomery County's prestigious Ida F. Haimovicz Visual Arts Award),[9] both of which are located in Maryland. While at Blair, she drew several comics (called "The Strip" for the school's newspaper, Silver Chips) which won first place for comics in the Newspaper Individual Writing and Editing Contest. "The Strip" ran a comic challenging MCPS's new grading policy from 2005.[10] She went on to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York.[11]

According to Sugar's father Rob, Rebecca Sugar and her younger brother Steven were raised with what he called "Jewish sensibilities", and both siblings observe the lighting of Hanukkah candles with their parents via Skype.[12]


Early work[edit]

During her time at the School of Visual Arts, Sugar directed short animated films, including Johnny Noodleneck (2008).[13] In 2009, she wrote and animated Singles, in which frequent collaborator Ian Jones-Quartey acted as an assistant animator, assistant inker and voice actor on the project, while Sugar's brother Steven Sugar acted as an assistant colorist.[14] Sugar completed this film as her thesis.[14]

Sugar also played an important role in the creation of nockFORCE, a cartoon series created by Ian Jones-Quartey and Jim Gisriel and launched in 2007 on YouTube. In particular, she contributed to the cartoon's backgrounds and characters.[15]

In 2010, Sugar published her first graphic novel, Pug Davis, featuring an astronaut dog and his gay sidekick Blouse.[16][17]

She is also known for her comic "Don't Cry for Me, I'm Already Dead", a story about two brothers whose shared love of The Simpsons takes a tragic turn.[13]


Sugar first joined the crew of Adventure Time as a storyboard revisionist during the show's first season.[18] Due to the quality of her work, within a month of being hired she was promoted to a storyboard artist, making her debut during the production of the second season.[12] Her first episode was "It Came from the Nightosphere".[19] While working on the show, she was encouraged by the creative team to put her "own life experiences into the character of Marceline".[20] As she put it in an interview with Paper Magazine, she connected with indie and underground comic artists who worked on the show, like Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale and Adam Muto, who told her to do what she would do when drawing comics and to not hold anything back. She stated that some of the changes in animation for years to come were inspired by what the show was able to do by being "very artist-driven", by independent comic artists like herself.[21]

Production for Steven Universe began while Sugar was still working on Adventure Time. She continued working on Adventure Time until the show's fifth season, whereupon she left in order to focus on Steven Universe. Her last episode for Adventure Time was "Simon & Marcy"; following that episode, working on both series simultaneously "became impossible to do". She had also previously encountered difficulty in the production of the Adventure Time episode "Bad Little Boy".[22] Sugar returned temporarily to write the song "Everything Stays" for the seventh season miniseries Stakes.[23][24]

She was an executive producer for Steven Universe for its entire run, and a storyboard artist for several of its episodes; the series premiered on November 4, 2013 and concluded on January 21, 2019. She directed the full-length television movie taking place after the fifth season of Steven Universe, called Steven Universe: The Movie, which premiered on September 2, 2019 on Cartoon Network.[25] The movie was followed by an epilogue limited series titled Steven Universe Future, also with Sugar as executive producer, which premiered on December 7, 2019[26] and concluded on March 27, 2020.


Sugar has discussed the importance of creating LGBT representation and content, especially in children's entertainment. On Cameron Esposito's podcast QUEERY, Sugar stated "I want to champion LGBTQIA, all of it, content ... in G-Rated, family entertainment. I want to do that forever".[6] She also explained how Steven Universe has helped her come to terms with her own identity as bisexual and non-binary. She believes that early and positive exposure to the LGBT community can help queer identifying children avoid experiencing shame in their own identities.[27][28]

Other work[edit]

Sugar designed the album cover of True Romance for Estelle, the voice of Garnet on Steven Universe.[29] In December 2016, comic book publisher Youth in Decline featured Sugar's sketches and story notes for her unpublished comic Margo in Bed as issue #14 of the art/comics anthology series Frontier.[30][31]

In 2018, Sugar was featured on Gallant's 2018 R&B/Soul track TOOGOODTOBETRUE, along with Sufjan Stevens.[32]

In April 2020, Sugar narrated a video titled Let My People Go, a video created by the organization Never Again Action. The video talks about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees and the poor living conditions they are experiencing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.[33]

Between October 2020 and April 2021, the anti-racism PSAs "Don't Deny It, Defy It", "Tell the Whole Story", "See Color", and "Be An Ally", that she worked on with Ian Jones-Quartey, featuring characters from Steven Universe, were released on the Cartoon Network YouTube channel.[34][35]

In the "Froggy Little Christmas" episode of Amphibia, a 22-minute Christmas special which aired on November 27, 2021, Sugar voiced a street performer who sang a musical number which Sugar had written. Sugar was not credited for her contribution to the episode.[36][37] Matt Braly, the creator of Amphibia, praised her song as "really amazing" and saying that it had been stuck in his head and that of the crew for months.[38]

Personal life[edit]

In February 2016, Ian Jones-Quartey confirmed via Twitter that he and Sugar were in a romantic relationship; at the time of the tweet, the two had been together for eight years.[39] He added that they met when Sugar was at the School of Visual Arts in New York. They were married on December 4, 2019.[40]

In July 2016, Sugar said at a San Diego Comic-Con panel that the LGBT themes in Steven Universe are in large part based on her own experience as a bisexual woman.[41] In a July 2018 interview on NPR,[42] Sugar said that she created the series' Gems as non-binary women in order to express herself, as a non-binary woman, through them.[5][43] In August 2020, she said she "didn't identify as a woman" but had felt pressure to conceal that fact because of her reputation as the first woman to create a Cartoon Network series.[21] In October 2020, in the final art book for Steven Universe, Sugar said that she loved being able to place her experiences in a different context "through a nonbinary lens" when writing characters for the show.[44] As of 2021, Sugar goes by both "she/her" and "they/them" pronouns.[45]


Adventure Time[edit]

Rebecca Sugar's work on Adventure Time gained Primetime Emmy Award for Short-format Animation nominations for the episode "It Came from the Nightosphere" in 2011 and for the episode "Simon & Marcy" in 2013.[46] The show also earned multiple Annie Award nominations. These included, Best Storyboarding in a Television Production in 2012[47] and Story-boarding in an Animated Television Production in 2013.[48]

Steven Universe[edit]

For Steven Universe, Sugar has been nominated for several media industry awards, including six Primetime Emmy Awards. She and the series have received, among others, the 2018 Peabody Award for Children's & Youth Programming and the 2019 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Kids & Family Program; in 2015 the series was named to the James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List.


In 2012, Forbes magazine included her on its "30 Under 30 in Entertainment" list, noting that she was responsible for writing "many of the best episodes" of Adventure Time.[2]

Variety included Sugar in "Hollywood's New Leaders 2016: The Creatives", a list celebrating upcoming filmmakers, show-runners and creators in both traditional and digital media.[49]


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Singles Director, story writer, animator and composer[14] Short film
2010–13; 2015, 2018 Adventure Time Story writer, storyboard artist, songwriter, storyboard revisionist Television series
Voice role: Marceline's mother
2012 Hotel Transylvania Storyboard artist[50] Film
2013–19 Steven Universe Creator, executive producer, storyline writer, storyboard artist, songwriter Television series
2017–19 OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes Writer and performer of end titles Television series
2019 Steven Universe: The Movie Director, executive producer, writer, storyboard artist, composer, songwriter Television film
2019–20 Steven Universe Future Creator, executive producer Limited television series
2021 Amphibia Songwriter (uncredited) Episode: "Froggy Little Christmas"
Voice role: street performer (uncredited)


  1. ^ Sugar uses she/her and they/them pronouns. This article uses feminine pronouns for consistency.
  2. ^ Prior to coming out as non-binary, Sugar was described in sources as the first woman to do so.[2]


  1. ^ Thomas, Paul (2020). Exploring the Land of Ooo: An Unofficial Overview and Production History of Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time". Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Libraries. p. 154, note 112. ISBN 9781936153190. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Rebecca Sugar – 30 Under 30: Hollywood". Forbes. December 17, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "Rebecca Sugar". Television Academy. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  4. ^ GLAAD (January 13, 2022). "The Mitchells vs. the Machines Q&A". YouTube. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Pulliam-Moore, Charles (July 16, 2018). "Steven Universe's Rebecca Sugar on How She Expresses Her Identity Through the Non-binary Crystal Gems". io9. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Esposito, Cameron (October 9, 2017). "Rebecca Sugar, episode #13 of Queery with Cameron Esposito on Earwolf". Earwolf. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. ^ Cavna, Michael (November 1, 2013). "'Steven Universe' creator Rebecca Sugar is a Cartoon Network trailblazer". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Two Students are Named Presidential Scholars". Montgomery Schools Maryland. May 10, 2005. Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  9. ^ French, Esther (January 14, 2013). "Successful Animator Credits Einstein's Visual Arts Center". Patch Media. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  10. ^ Goldstein, Jordan; Sekaran, Adith (November 14, 2005). "Silver Chips, Silver Chips Online, Silver Quill win in journalism competitions". Silver Chips Online. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Amidi, Amid (October 5, 2012). "Rebecca Sugar Is Cartoon Network's First Solo Woman Show Creator". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Grossman, Ed; Moskowitz, Dan (May 14, 2015). "Rebecca Sugar takes Hollywood by storm with hit cartoon show "Steven Universe"". Archived from the original on January 25, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Villarreal, Daniel (April 22, 2017). "The Weird, Heartbreaking Pre-'Steven Universe' Work of Rebecca Sugar". Hornet Stories. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Amidi, Amid (August 10, 2009). "Cartoon Brew TV #21: "Singles" by Rebecca Sugar". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Jones-Quartey, Ian [@ianjq] (August 25, 2015). "@captainzulas @rebeccasugar @JimmFORCE actually Rebecca helped a number of things in nockFORCE including backgrounds and characters" (Tweet). Retrieved October 28, 2018 – via Twitter.
  16. ^ Homan, Eric (December 9, 2010). "Rebecca Sugar's "Pug Davis"". The Adventure Time Blog. Frederator Studios Blogs. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  17. ^ "Pug Davis". Goodreads. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  18. ^ Ward, Pendleton (2011). "Rainy Day Daydream" [Animatic commentary track], Adventure Time Season One [DVD], Los Angeles, CA: Cartoon Network.
  19. ^ Homan, Eric (October 11, 2010). "Rebecca Sugar's First Board (Nightosphere)". Frederator Studios. Archived from the original on August 28, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  20. ^ Robinson, Joanna (March 5, 2021). "Raya and the Last Dragon's Kelly Marie Tran Thinks Her Disney Princess Is Gay". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  21. ^ a b Moen, Matt (August 5, 2020). "In Conversation: Rebecca Sugar and Noelle Stevenson". Paper Magazine. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  22. ^ Kohn, Eric (November 1, 2013). "'Adventure Time' Writer Rebecca Sugar on 'Steven Universe,' Being Cartoon Network's First Female Show Creator And Why Pop Art Is 'Offensive'". IndieWire. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  23. ^ Brown, Tracy (August 23, 2018). "The 'Adventure Time' songs that make you cry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  24. ^ "[Olivia Olson confirms when 'Stakes' will air]". Instagram. July 10, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-12-23. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  25. ^ Bojalad, Alec (August 29, 2019). "Steven Universe: The Movie Toonami Trailer Released". Den of Geek. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  26. ^ Miller, Shannon (November 26, 2019). "The titles, air dates, and episode details for Steven Universe Future are here". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  27. ^ Brown, Tracy (May 24, 2018). "Rebecca Sugar's commitment to LGBTQ visibility continues to drive 'Steven Universe'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Romano, Nick (August 13, 2018). "'Steven Universe' creator is doing more for LGBTQ visibility than you might know". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  29. ^ Sugar, Rebecca [@rebeccasugar] (February 20, 2015). "Ahh!!! Completely surreal experience of seeing my album artwork for Estelle's new album True Romance…" (Tweet). Retrieved December 27, 2019 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "Frontier #14: Rebecca Sugar". Youth in Decline. December 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  31. ^ Leblanc, Philippe (January 16, 2017). "Review – Frontier #14 by Rebecca Sugar: Movement, Poetry & Family". The Beat. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  32. ^ Murphy, Sarah (September 21, 2018). "Gallant, Sufjan Stevens and Rebecca Sugar Join Forces for "TOOGOODTOBETRUE"". Exclaim!. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  33. ^ Hughes, William (April 8, 2020). "Steven Universe's Rebecca Sugar narrates video calling for closure of ICE camps". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  34. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (February 16, 2021). "Third Crystal Gems Anti-Racism Short Calls on Kids to 'See Color'". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021.
  35. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (April 12, 2021). "CN Launches Final Crystal Gems Anti-Racism PSA: 'Be An Ally'". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on May 16, 2021.
  36. ^ Rivera, Brett (July 24, 2021). "Disney's Amphibia Season 3 Sets October Premiere Date [EXCLUSIVE]". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  37. ^ Braly, Matt [@Radrappy] (November 27, 2021). "Happy holidays you guys! Thanks for watching the show and we'll see you next year for the roller coaster that is #amphibia s3b! That @rebeccasugar song has been stuck in my head for half a year now" (Tweet). Archived from the original on November 27, 2021. Retrieved November 27, 2021 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ Braly, Matt (October 3, 2021). "Amphibia: Matt Braly Talks Season 3, New Shoes, and That Wild Season 2 Finale". ComicBook (Interview). Interviewed by Rollin Bishop. Archived from the original on October 9, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  39. ^ Jones-Quartey, Ian [@ianjq] (February 13, 2016). "@CreeperGuy1337 yeah! We've been together over 8 years now" (Tweet). Retrieved December 27, 2019 – via Twitter.
  40. ^ Jones-Quartey, Ian [@ianjq] (December 5, 2019). "Hey so @rebeccasugar and I have been a couple for 12 years ... and yesterday we got married! To each other!" (Tweet). Retrieved December 27, 2019 – via Twitter.
  41. ^ Rude, Mey (July 22, 2016). "Rebecca Sugar is Bisexual: "Steven Universe" Creator Comes Out at Comic-Con". Autostraddle. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  42. ^ Johnson, Joshua (July 9, 2018). "The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon". 1A. NPR. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  43. ^ Necessary, Terra (July 18, 2018). "Rebecca Sugar Opens Up About Being Non-binary". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  44. ^ McDonnell, Chris (October 2020). "End of An Era". Steven Universe: End of An Era. Abrams, New York: Abrams Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-1419742842. Archived from the original on August 22, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  45. ^ "Rebecca Sugar (@rebeccasugar)". Twitter. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  46. ^ "Adventure Time - Emmy Awards, Nominations and Wins". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  47. ^ "39th Annual Annie Awards". ASIFA-Hollywood. 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  48. ^ "40th Annual Annie Awards". ASIFA-Hollywood. 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  49. ^ Variety Staff (October 19, 2016). "Hollywood's New Leaders 2016: The Creatives". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  50. ^ Sugar, Rebecca (November 25, 2012). "I did some storyboards for Hotel Transylvania!". Tumblr. Retrieved May 6, 2013.

External links[edit]