Valerie LaPointe: Doodles of Ariel Led to an Animated Life
Sometimes, it’s just good to be reminded that hard work and a dream can make real-world wishes come true. Such is the story of one would-be Pixar artist — Valerie LaPointe — who, as a child, began her artistic career by drawing The Little Mermaid‘s “Ariel” over and over.
Recently, Lapointe told The Virginian-Pilot’s It really struck a chord and inspired me… I kind of became fixated on everything about it.”
Part of the Animation World
[Valerie would] watch the VHS tape over and over, trying meticulously to get every detail right. Then she’d sell the drawings to her classmates.
“I can really pin back the exact moment to seeing that movie and when she sang ‘Part of Your World,’ ” she said. “It launched me into having a big interest in animation.”
Today LaPointe, 37, works at Pixar as a story supervisor. For the past five years, she worked on “Toy Story 4,” which is in theaters now. She got a seat at the table with the movie’s core team: the director, producer, editor, and others who make big decisions. She also oversees the other story artists.
A fantastic journey, for sure.
But I think the most poignant part of the story — a story many of you may have heard before (on the extras for Disney • Pixar’s The Incredibles, “Path to Pixar”) — is when LaPoint talks about the letter she wrote to Walt Disney Animation when she was 12 or 13-years-old.
Valerie Wrote a Letter
[G]etting to her dream job was no easy task.
Growing up in [Virginia] in the 1990s, she didn’t have access to many resources that would tell her how to launch a career as a story artist. At the bookstore, she found just one book on the subject. She devoured it. She had to find her own way, unlike today’s up-and-comers who can easily find information on the internet.
Then when she was 12, she wrote to Disney with an idea for a movie. The company kindly told her that they don’t accept pitches, but they sent her a whole packet of information about how to chase her dreams, such as where to go to art school and what to study.
And Valerie did it ALL. Now, she’s giving the advice:
There’s something interesting to be gained out of every life experience and class you might tak..,LaPointe said. “All of those pieces, all of that comes together in the stories you’re going to tell. Valerie LaPointe, Disney • Pixar
You can view LaPointe’s work when you watch Toy Story 4.
LaPointe (and Bo Peep) Leading a Flock
LaPointe has played a big part in developing Bo Peep, working on the team who oversaw the character’s evolution. Bo Peep was a relatively minor love interest in the first two “Toy Story” movies, but in the fourth, she’s re-introduced as a confident feminist heroine leading a flock on adventures.
A heroine leading a flock on adventures — just like Valerie LaPointe!
But did those doodles lead to Toy Story 5?
Be sure to read the entire article, and then go watch the short on The Incredibles.
And do not miss the part where Sidersky wrote: “Now she’s making a whole film about Bo Peep’s journey. It’s thrown her into another new role: directing.”
Did we just get confirmation about Toy Story 5?!