No woman has ever directed a Disney animated feature. That is, until John Lasseter offered Wreck-it Ralph writer Jennifer Lee the job of co-directing the upcoming Frozen with Chris Buck (Surf's Up, Tarzan). Was Lee surprised to be the first female to achieve such an accomplishment? Nope—actually she was unaware of that fact at the time. "I was surprised because I was a writer."
"I think it would probably stand out a lot more if this were 1965," she says. "So many more women are ... becoming animators and becoming storyboard artists. And, that's usually in animation how someone becomes a director is through those departments. So, coming in as a writer was actually much more unique to me than being a woman."
Indeed, not only is Lee new to directing, she says, "I didn't know anything about animation until two years ago!"
However, once Lee took the job, the influence of her extra X chromosome became apparent in developing realistic, complex personalities for royal sisters Elsa and Anna, whose chilly relationship worsens after one magically puts the kingdom into a state of eternal winter. Buck credits Lee with "creating some of the best female characters we've ever done, the most fully realized, the most three-dimensional. These aren't female characters that are put up on a pedestal; these are real, gritty, flawed females that are just human. I just love that."
Lee adds her best moment working on the film was being told by Disney's Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger that Anna and Elsa are "the girls that should go out and represent Disney."
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