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A teen draws up big plans

High-school student wants to take her company international, hire autistics.

February 09, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Dani Bowman, a 16-year old La Cañada High School sophomore who has autism, said she started to feel famous on Saturday as she signed autograph after autograph in front of La Cañada Books and Toys on Saturday.

“I feel like a celebrity, I think I'm becoming one,” Dani said.

She spent two hours Saturday signing “Danny and Goliath,” a recently published book created by John Benjamin Martin, Joey Travolta and Richard Willich and illustrated by Dani. Although contributing to a published book would be a crowning achievement for most high-school students, it’s one of Dani’s humbler highlights in her short but already bright career.

On Oct. 30, Dani won an ANCA Naturally Autistic award for her contributions in the visual arts and the way in which she’s showcased the ability of individuals with autism through her work with Powerlight Studios.

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Powerlight Studios, an animation and entertainment company, was founded by Dani five years ago when she first discovered her passion for animation. Today, Dani illustrates, writes and voice-acts in nine different cartoon series and has created more than 30 different characters for her stories. She also teaches animation classes to people of any age, from teenagers to adults, and does freelance animation and illustration.

Dani can juggle so many things — she currently has about five freelance assignments, Powerlight Studios projects, work and high school to attend — because of her ability to multi-task and zip through projects.

The first two parts of “Danny and Goliath,” a three-book series about bullying, are complete. It took Dani six hours to illustrate the first, 44-page book and two days to complete the second 60-page book. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the HEAL Foundation, a non-profit organization in Florida that serves individuals with autism living in the greater Jacksonville, Fla. area.

Dani was able to create Powerlight Studios with the help of her aunt and uncle, Sandy and Patrick Eidemiller, with whom she lives. When Dani started living with her aunt and uncle, she would tell Sandy how she wanted to start her own company. At first, Sandy thought it was an 11-year-old’s pipe dream, but that all changed when she saw Dani’s work and heard the five-year plan she set out for Powerlight Studios. Sandy soon realized how serious her niece was.

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