The stories we told around campfires have been replaced by animated fairy tales that frame our cultural values to kids and adults. Those stories live inside us well beyond childhood. Not too long ago, they used to represent a misogynistic, racist culture and told us that, for example, if you’re a good girl, you’ll get married and live happily ever after.
Today, they approach more authentic and meatier issues like depression, loss, and warnings on what could happen if we rely too much on technology. There are people, like this week’s guest, the first academy-award winning director for an animated feature, Brenda Chapman, who fought tooth and nail to stop telling silly princess stories and finally show women who wanted something beyond true love. That movie was Brave, and it was a movie she conceived of, wrote, directed and then, at the last minute was forcibly removed from the project. Brenda has led a new generation of creators who understand the gravity of these stories and aren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects that feel relevant and meaningful instead of idyllic fantasies.
She's has worked on legendary movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Prince of Egypt, Cars, and of course her baby, Brave. She remains the only woman to have directed a feature length animated film.
In our very candid conversation Brenda offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s taken to turn the tide on how women are portrayed and the dreams we tell our children. We talk about how these stories can create social change and how to use the rules of character development for your own life and personal fairytale. It takes real bravery to go up against the establishment and Brenda had the character to do it. I’m sure that when you listen to her talk about how she develops other characters, it will help you build your own.