Celebrating Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the Most Successful Female Director in Hollywood

The Most Successful Female Director in Hollywood We love a good success story, and when it involves someone we respect and admire, that’s even better. The brilliant Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Kung Fu Panda 2, has been named the most successful female director in Hollywood history based on the fact that the movie has made nearly $700 million at the box office to date. Incredible, right?

AwardsDaily has a great Q&A with Jennifer that provides a fascinating look behind the scenes of Kung Fu Panda 2, as well as a valuable perspective on what it’s like to be a female in the animation industry—and handling the many challenges of being a first-time director.

“It was a daunting responsibility,” Jennifer says in the AwardsDaily story. “Before, my job was trying to be as helpful as possible. Now everybody’s staring at me for the ‘yeses’ and ‘nos.’ I’m responsible for everyone. They’re all people whose work I really admire. This time my responsibility was making sure I wasn’t squandering their talents.”

The entire Q&A is a fantastic read, but we especially loved the part where Jennifer talks about the importance of mentors and partners. She’s had her own support network, including Kung Fu Panda 2 producer Melissa Cobb and several mentors, including Lorna Cook (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron), Vicky Jenson (Shark Tale) and our own Brenda Chapman.

Jennifer brings up an invaluable point about mentors. Finding someone (or several someones) who can act as a sounding board, a voice of reason and, in some instances, a teacher is an incredibly invaluable asset. Working with mentors and partners is important regardless of what industry you’re in, but can be especially helpful in navigating the sometimes complex nuances of animation and filmmaking.

We couldn’t be more proud of Jennifer’s success and all she’s doing to inspire those who dream of a career in animation, especially young women. Hollywood needs more brilliant women like her.

Congratulations, Jennifer!

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

  • My husband begrudgingly took our kids to this movie over the summer and absolutely loved it (they did too!). Very happy to learn that it was directed by a woman. 🙂

  • Yoonhee Kang

    I am a recent graduate in animation and also Korean, just like Jennifer. It’s really inspiring to see a female Asian director becoming so successful in the field. Nothing gives me more encouragement to strive forward in my own career. Thank you for the article!

    • Your so welcome! I’m glad it inspired. Jen is amazing.

  • Ileana Soon

    This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

    • Brenda Chapman

      You’re very welcome!

  • Angela Entzminger

    Thanks for posting the link to this great article, Brenda. It’s inspiring to see a woman succeed at such an awesome level. She lead her team to make a terrific movie.

    • Brenda Chapman

      She most definitely did! 🙂

  • Pingback: Infographic Highlights Lack of Women Directors | Brenda Chapman()

Real Time Analytics