UNH alumna named chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
June 20. 2018 9:09PM
Jennifer Lee has been named chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. She spoke at UNH's commencement ceremony in 2014 and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. (UNH from Twitter)

Jennifer Lee, who graduated from UNH in 1992, will have creative oversight of all films and associated projects of Walt Disney Animation Studios, according to a Tuesday announcement by the company. ((Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios))

DURHAM — A University of New Hampshire alumna has been named chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Jennifer Lee, who graduated from UNH in 1992, will have creative oversight of all films and associated projects of Walt Disney Animation Studios, according to a Tuesday announcement by the company.

Lee started at Walt Disney in 2011 as co-writer of the Oscar nominated “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Lee is best known for writing and directing “Frozen,” which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and stands as the highest-grossing animated film ever released.

The Walt Disney Company’s announcement says Lee played a critical role in the story team of the Oscar-winning “Zootopia” and is currently in production for “Frozen 2,” which is scheduled to be released in November of next year.

Lee is also an executive producer of the upcoming “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” according to the announcement.

In a statement, Lee said she loved Disney films as a child and their goal is to create films that carry on the magical and timeless legacy the 95-year-old company has built.

“Animation is the most collaborative art form in the world, and it is with the partnership of my fellow filmmakers, artists, and innovators that we look ahead to the future. My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices, and work together to tell original stories,” Lee said.

Pete Docter, who was born in Minnesota and studied at California Institute of the Arts, has been named chief creative officer at Pixar Animation Studios. Lee and Docter will report directly to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.

“Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter are two of the most gifted filmmakers and storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” Horn said in a statement. “... Jenn, in bringing her bold vision to the boundary-breaking Frozen, has helped infuse Disney Animation with a new and exciting perspective. Each of them embodies the unique spirit, culture, and values of these renowned animation studios, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have them to lead us into the future.”

Lee was the commencement speaker at UNH’s graduation ceremony in 2014. She encouraged graduates and guests to banish self-doubt.

“When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better,” Lee said. “When you believe in yourself, you succeed better.”

Lee, who grew up in Providence, R.I., moved to New York City and eventually earned a master’s degree in film from Columbia University after she left UNH.

It has become an annual tradition for students to sing a version of “Let it Go,” the smash single from “Frozen,” during commencement ceremonies at UNH.


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