The cast and crew of Pixar’s SOUL shared some wise words we all needed to hear before streaming the film on Disney+ Christmas Day.
Last month, I was able to attend the virtual press junket for the new film, Pixar’s SOUL.
There were tons of insight given during these interviews with the cast, producers, and directors.
These are some of the most thought-provoking things said during these few moments with these incredible people.
Sometime’s pushing people to follow their dreams is a gut-check
The incomparable Phylicia Rashad shared that her character, Libba, could be seen as a mom who gives her son Joe a gut check of reality.
But, she geniusly shared that the real gut check comes when you tell those you love to go for it.
Sometimes that’s a real gut check; to tell them to follow their dreams. – Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia also stated how SOUL affected her after she viewed the film:
“SOUL hasn’t changed my outlook on life, but it helped reaffirm it” – Phylicia Rashad
The Issue Of Gender and Race In Pixar’s SOUL
One of the biggest issues with animated feature films is the low number of African American female characters.
While we all love Princess Tiana, an increase in black female characters is beloved animated films is still lacking.
When asked what she think of the low number of African American female voices in animation, Phylicia shares:
“I look forward to a time when it seems natural to everyone, so that this question need not be asked.”
Gatekeeper of her own excellence
Angela Bassett voices Jazz great Dorothea Williams in SOUL, and she was perfectly casted.
Dorothea is a strong female character, and the head of a her own Jazz band. She makes all the decisions, and Joe encounters her regal approach to situations during the film.
When Angela was asked what she admires about Dorothea she stated that “she’s the gatekeeper of her own excellence.”
As an Emmy-nominated actress, Angela exemplifies what it’s like to be the gatekeeper of her own excellence. That is see through her voice work in Pixar’s SOUL.
The Hyper Specificity of Black Culture
With Pixar creating their first film with an African American protagonist, SOUL was already given much excitement with his announcement.
Writer-Director Kemp Powers shared that when he signed on, he wanted the team to understand how much he loves Black culture, and needs it to be represented correctly.
“Our culture is amazing. A lot of people, particularly in Hollywood, will tell you that in order to appeal to a wide audience, you want to get away from that.
I feel the opposite. I feel like there is universality by going for hyper specificity.
This was a wonderful opportunity to both do something that my family could be proud of, but something that everyone could enjoy.
Show how the Black American experience and our humanity is as universal as anyone else’s experience.“
The Meaning Of A Suit And A Fade
Suit and a fade is a big part of the package of SOUL. It was a big plot point in the film, and was created to help the audience become engulfed in the Black experience.
Kemp Powers shared that when he found out that Joe getting a new suit would be a pivotal part of the film, he was excited that Disney Pixar understood the importance of the moment.
That is, until he mentioned that Joe would also need a haircut with that new suit. There was word that the haircut wasn’t as important as the new suit, but Kemp begged to differ.
Kemp mentioned his own interview at Pixar, and how important a haircut is during big life events.
“I was like, I wouldn’t have even come up to the interview at Pixar if I couldn’t have got lined up. So, I’m going to disagree and say that haircut is every bit as important as the threads.”
Jamie Never Stops
One of the highlights of the interview were the consistent and constant wise words from Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx.
Jamie voices lead character Joe in Pixar’s SOUL, and once you watch, you’ll understand why Jamie was the perfect choice.
Pete Doctor commented that Jamie never stops. We learned that during breaks, he played piano for the crew. He always had something funny or kind to say.
During the interview, we were blessed with a few words from Jamie, who has lived many lives in one (In Living Color, Ray, Top 40 Billboard hits).
One quote that hit me right in the gut:
“Don’t waste your blink. Live your life.”
Jamie was remarking how Joe learns this lesson in the film, and how he learned it during the passing of his sister.
As a multi-hyphenate talent, Jamie also shared how he’s able to do it all, and do it all well.
“You CAN do it all, you just have to respect them all.”
Advice For Young Black Artists
As the interview wound down, Jamie threw more life-changing advice at us. He shared something he wanted black artists and content creators of today to note:
“Do not fatigue. The opportunity is so wide open now. You got to take advantage of it. Somebody’s going to see you, if you stay at it.”