Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Director; Kung Fu Panda 2

image: Los Angeles Times

(post by way of Nicole Sperling, Los Angeles Times)

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of Kung Fu Panda 2, is having a fantastic year so far.

She’s worked her way thru the ranks in Dreamworks to directing her feature film, making her quite possibly the first female Asian director of an animated feature film (according to Cartoon Brew). Pretty fantastic, and for a bunch of reasons, all of them good.

From the LA Times, a bit of background on Jennifer:

“Nelson is one of four women to have directed a feature at her home studio of DreamWorks Animation — though her contemporaries, Brenda Chapman (“Prince of Egypt”), Vicky Jenson (“Shark Tale,” “Shrek“) and Lorna Cook (“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”) shared their duties with at least one male counterpart. And though the company’s chief competitor, Pixar Animation Studios, has released 11 consecutive hit films, none was directed or co-directed by a woman.

When Dreamworks Big Cheese Jeffrey Katzenberg asked Jennifer to take the reins on the film, she had to reconcile her idea of a director; a tyrannical leader as opposed to her own subdued personality. Jennifer shares her take on directors and directing Kung Fu Panda 2;

“When people think of a movie director, they likely would not think of someone like me. I don’t chomp cigars, make virtual movie screen shapes with my hands or hang out at hot spots with even hotter celebrities.

In fact, very few directors fit such stereotypes. They tend to be unassuming sorts who shuffle around half-asleep from trying to meet their release dates. They are all varied and unique. I for example am a soft-spoken, Korean-American woman who lives a very tame and settled life. But the one thing that binds us all is a love of film.”

This woman rocks.

Dreamworks Grand Fromage Katzenberg adds; “What I always find so amazing about Jennifer is that inside this beautiful, soulful, soft-spoken, elegant lady is this macho, kung fu-loving action dynamo. It’s the opposite of what we’re all used to dealing with in the world, the macho exterior and marshmallow center. There is very much a cult following that she has among our artists. They all want to work with her.”

Great to see folks like Jennifer getting a shot at leading the charge on big deal productions. Love the non-tryannical perspective, too. Much to learn there by many, eh? Horror stories anyone?

For the rest of the article, head on over to LA times HERE– it’s a great read, and inspiring to see Jenifer pushing this thing forward. Here’s to hoping Pixar will do more of the same. The fine fellows at Cartoon Brew have a video to peruse Here.


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