In early 2021, Centrum hosted award-winning director, writer, and story artist, Brenda Chapman for a month-long residency. A few months later, Michelle Hagewood catches up with Chapman to revisit conversations started over that residency. Chapman reflects on the ups and downs of her long career at Disney, Dreamworks, and Pixar and shares her early influences and the threads that connect to her newest projects and endeavors.
Brenda Chapman started her career as a story artist at Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1987, where she worked on several animated films including The Little Mermaid, and the Oscar nominated Beauty and the Beast. Chapman was the story supervisor on the original The Lion King, for which she won ASIFA’s Annie Award.
She then helped launch DreamWorks Animation Studios, and co-directed the 1998 release of the Oscar winning Prince of Egypt. Chapman was the first woman to direct an animated feature for a major Hollywood studio.
Joining Pixar Animation Studios in September 2003, Chapman created, wrote and directed Brave – inspired by her relationship with her daughter – for which she was the first woman to win an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film of 2012.
Her first live-action film, Come Away, starring David Oyelowo and Angelina Jolie, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Chapman and her husband, filmmaker Kevin Lima (Enchanted, Disney’s Tarzan, A Goofy Movie), created ‘Twas Entertainment, which focuses on family entertainment.
Currently, Chapman is writing a feature script for Gutsy Animations UK, executive producing on projects for ‘Twas, as well as working on a novel, a memoir and a children’s book.