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.
3 Comments on "Jennifer Yuh Nelson"
How wonderful for you. I don’t have talent like you; but I was raised by St. Olaf Art Professor, Arch M. Leean, who had your passion your talent. In the late 50s and early 60s, he worked for Jay Ward Productions, Hanna Barbara Studios, as well as Disney Studios as an animator. Among his students was Utit Choomong (last name mispelled) whose name appears on Simpson credits.
He was a man who lived his passion in a humble, and quiet way. He was larger than life to me a little girl from Korea raised in Minnesota by this Norweigan-American man, his wife Mary, and their two biological daughters.
May you have a wonderful life, Jennifer Yuh Nelson.
My daughter (Haleigh) and myself are so inspired by you and your story. Haleigh just turned 19 and for years; back in her elementary school days, she has been obsessed by drawing. When her teachers couldn’t keep her interest in school she was always took to doodling characters instead of doing work in class. I don’t know how many teacher conferences I went to and all her teachers would report the same thing about her taking to drawing instead of paying attention. In watching a short documentary this weekend on Kong Fu Panda 3 we were inspired about Jennifer’s comment of “Don’t worry kids if you are quiet and don’t like crowds of people because I was the same way”. Haleigh seems to “ditto” Jennifer in every early years aspects… and her drawings of wolves, foxes, dogs, and currently drawing anime pictures are just short of amazing I wanted to know what avenue Haleigh should pursue for her amazing talent. I just wish I knew someone who could direct her onto the right path to further her exposure and her education to get her where she needs and desperately wants to be. Haleigh wasn’t top of her class in high school by no means; definitely struggled in math etc., but her drawing was and is just so amazingly detailed and striking I can’t let her be scared of college and not pursue her future passion of drawing for a company such as PIXAR or DREAMWORKS someday. If Ms. Nelson is reading this we surely would love your input on how Haleigh can pursue a career in animation/anime, or whatever is presented to her through her talent. Thank you so much for listening and again were very inspired by Jennifer Yun Nelson’s interview this weekend. 3.14.2016 Beth Stevenson-Fowler, Tucson, Arizona