Celebrating Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 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.
Image via The Hollywood Reporter