The Animator | Domee Shi
Domee Shi already made a name for herself in 2019 when her animated film Bao won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. But this year, her work as the director behind the film Turning Red has put Toronto on the map, and in the best way possible. Drawing from her experience growing up Chinese-Canadian in Toronto, the animated feature broke all kinds of records. It’s the first Pixar feature solely directed by a woman, the first Pixar feature with all-female creative leads and only the second Pixar feature directed by a person of Asian descent. And not only that, but Turning Red is a true love letter to Toronto, turning our city into a now Golden Globe-worthy setting that highlights the best parts of growing up here — and for that, we are endlessly grateful.
By Lindsey Collins, Pixar’s Senior VP of Development
Domee Shi is part of Pixar’s new generation of filmmakers, and as such her impact on the industry is already being felt. In 2018 Domee directed a short, Bao, about a mother’s all-consuming love for her child. Bao then won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. In her acceptance speech, Domee urged “all the nerdy girls out there” to not be afraid to “tell your stories to the world.” Domee herself continued to do just that with the 2022 feature film Turning Red, a story of intergenerational trauma framed around a mythical tale of a young Chinese-Canadian girl who turns into a giant red panda when she becomes emotional. Turning Red was a smash when it was released on Disney+, earning the highest-ever viewership from any premiere on the service. Domee has used her platform as a filmmaker to tell stories that are diverse, inclusive and don’t shy away from subjects not often tackled in mainstream commercial animation. Turning Red is an unapologetically Domee film, featuring period jokes, pop-music jams, girl-power righteousness and a cast of characters that feel grounded in the real world. With the release of Turning Red, Domee became the first-ever female director at Pixar to direct a feature on her own. She led with a confidence and boldness that defied expectation. She didn’t politely open the door for future first-time directors at Pixar; she exploded the door so that the possibilities for them are endless.
See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2022 here.