“Frozen 2” Director, Disney Animation Head Jennifer Lee is Awesome…
Now the head of Walt Disney Animation and the Frozen franchise, Lee told The New York Times about tough times, fear, and perseverance.
Many folks harken back to the great movies of the Disney Renaissance or Golden Age for their animated touchstone.
Mine remains in Arendelle; somewhere on a frozen mountain, not far from Elsa’s ice palace. But the phenomenon that is Jennifer Lee didn’t occur to me until I saw a special on ABC: “The Story of Frozen – The Making of an Animated Classic.”
From that moment on, I was not only a fan of Ms. Lee, but also of the animators, artists, designers, musicians — everyone — who worked so hard to pull together the modern fairytale that is Frozen.
And, honestly, Jennifer Lee sounded like someone I’d like to work for.
I Want To Work For Jennifer Lee
Today, after reading an epic New York Times interview with the powerhouse Disney creator, I think I’d pack up and move to Siberia if she willed it. However, it’s not just her skill, ambition, and leadership that I admire. It’s the utter humanity of her rise to power; the strength that she showed in order to make her goals, and the utter straightforwardness of her pursuit of life.
With “Frozen,” Ms. Lee was the first woman to direct a Disney animated feature film. This is particularly remarkable since she was not a trained animator and had only ventured out to Hollywood a couple of years before, as she turned 40, the age when many people in the dream factory start lying about how old they are.
She started her career in New York, working at Random House as an art director in both reference and audiobooks. At 30, she decided to take a gamble and pursue her dream of a career in movies, going back to school to get an M.F.A. in film at Columbia University.
There she met a fellow student named Phil Johnston, who asked her to come to Disney in 2011 for what was meant to be eight weeks to work on an animated film called “Wreck-It Ralph.”
Thank goodness she stayed.
The Quotable Lee
And while I don’t wish to shortchange readers on the poem that is Maureen Dowd’s piece entitled, “Jennifer Lee, Queen of the ‘Frozen’ Franchise: Strengthening Disney’s historically not-so-great sisterhood,” I do want to pick out a few quotes to send you in that direction:
- “And then by the time I got here, we were all talking about how that’s not the life we lived, and about creating characters that we could relate to. Fairy tales are timeless, but they’re not 100 percent timeless.”
- “I always go back to when I saw ‘His Girl Friday’ for the first time, because the relationship was incredible, with the wonderful mess of life…”
- “Elsa is not ready for a relationship…”
- “Extreme bullying goes to the heart of what is your weakest spot. It makes you live in your head. So I had sagas going in my head, and I just escaped reality.”
- “Some of the men, other creatives, were mocking her. And they were mocking her because they were threatened by her.”
“Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. My first sci-fi book was “A Wrinkle in Time.” Then I was a big fan of Philip K. Dick, like “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Of course, because of that, I loved Blade Runner.”
Sagas In Her Head
Wow. Just… wow.
Honest to god, Dowd’s piece is the best interview I’ve read in some time.
You’re shortchanging yourself — and your Disney fandom — if you don’t read ALL it right now.