Education: BFA, Illustration, California State University at Long Beach
First Job: Cleanup Artist, Jetlag Productions
What I'm Reading: Odd Hours, by Dean Koontz
My Philosophy: There is no room for ego in a collaborative creative environment. People will do their best when they feel safe, appreciated, and inspire
Family: Happily married to my best friend.
Interests: Video games, Anime, comic books, action movies.
Favorite Charities: Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter, Red Cross
Jennifer Yuh Nelson • Dreamworks
Director, "Kung Fu Panda 2"2010 award winner
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.
I have been drawing since age three and making movies in my head for almost as long. In fact, drawing for me was a way to express those films when I had no other means of doing so. I had no idea what career could use such a weird skill as drawing movies. But I did it because it brought me joy. When I was in college years later, a veteran storyboard artist came to talk to my class. He showed us how he drew movies for a living. My mind exploded. And that led to a career in animation.
Now I have the pleasure of working among talented and inspiring artists of all kinds. Every day I am grateful for the opportunity to do what I love for a living and learn so much from the remarkable work of others.
Recently I had a chance to pass forward what the veteran story artist did for me and speak at a college art class. It was wonderful to see the students’ excitement and passion for the medium and also their relief that they could pursue it in their own unique ways. My advice to them was to pursue what they loved to do. If you do what you love, the rest will follow.