Today, you will be reading my interview with a family friend and Disney animator, Cheryl Davis! I’ve known Cheryl basically my whole life. Recently, she came to visit NJ for a few days and I got the chance to ask her some questions about working for Disney. Enjoy!
1) What’s your official title?
Cheryl: I’m a lighting artist.
2) What Disney movies have you worked on?
Cheryl: “Mulan” (my first film), “Lilo and Stitch”, “Brother Bear”, “Wreck-it Ralph” and I’m currently working on “Frozen.”
3) How long have you worked for Disney?
Cheryl: I started working at Disney in 1993 as a production assistant at the Animation studio in Florida. Then I moved into the role of a Color Stylist and made my first film “Mulan”. After “Mulan” came the last two animated features in Florida. I worked at the Florida studio for nine years until they closed down in 2004. After leaving Disney, I moved around a LOT and worked on various other films at other animation studios. Then in 2012 I came back to Disney to work on “Wreck-it Ralph”. This time I came to the California Animation studio (the “hat” building). I’ve been working there since then.
4) What does an animator do?
Cheryl: Basically to make an animated film takes a lot of people! There are various jobs from the story department all the way through to the to the person who does the final color timing of the film. My job falls closer to the finished product of what you see on the big screen! My job as a lighting artist entails that we make the image you see on the screen look amazing. Once I received the “shot” it had been through animation and also the VFX department. Each department contributes its own unique touch to the final project. My job is sort of like stage lighting only in a Top Secret animation program that the brainiacs at Disney have created! This program gives me the ability to position lights and create the “mood” of the shot. Once my lights are in a position we render out the image and then composite that final image with all the effects we may have or other enhancements we make to the image.
5) What’s the best part about working for Disney?
Cheryl: Disney is the BEST Company ever! I can’t imagine working any place else. The people I work with on a daily basis are the most talented in the industry. There is also a lot of creative energy and it’s just a happy place to work. Also we get lots of perks from seeing movies at work, to my favorite day, which is Summer Treat Wednesday! Who can resist a company that makes giving out ice cream a priority?
6) So I heard that Richard Sherman came to the studio! What happened?
Cheryl: Richard Sherman was here at the studio to perform some of his beloved Disney music for the re-release of the “Jungle Book”! It was really one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had at Disney. He is really amazing and very humble (and super talented)!
7) You said that you are currently working on “Frozen.” Are there any things we can know about it?
Cheryl: “Frozen” is an epic journey that centers on Anna and Elsa, two sisters who live in the village of Arendelle. Elsa has special powers that turn the village into eternal winter. Anna sets off on a journey to find her sister and restore Arendelle. During her journey she encounters many adventures and teams up with Kristoff and his “pet” reindeer Sven. It’s really an awesome movie and I’m so excited for you guys to see it! It comes out in November!
8) Tell us something about your life outside of Disney.
Cheryl: Well, outside of work I love cooking, hiking and doing yoga. I also write a tea blog. (Although I probably do not update it as often as I should) When I “retire” from Disney I really want to open a tea shop. I would love to have a place for my friends to visit and a place where people can come and have a good cup of tea and enjoy life at a slower pace. Although my job is very demanding, I try and make time for things I really love to do.
9) What’s your favorite Disney Park?
Cheryl: I love them all, but I guess it would be Epcot.
10) What’s your favorite Disney resort?
Cheryl: My two favorites are The Contemporary (because of the style and the cool Mary Blair mural) but I also love the Beach Club. I like how everything is so walk able!
11) What’s your favorite Disney movie?
Cheryl: “Beauty and the Beast”
12) Favorite Disney character?
Cheryl: Belle- because she likes to read and so do I.
13) Favorite Disney attraction?
Cheryl: Hmmm…. That is a tough one. I love Peter Pan but also the Haunted Mansion.
14) What’s your favorite Disney song?
Cheryl: The music from the Spectro Magic Parade
I hope you all liked the interview! (And the secrets within the magical world of Disney animation) Remember to catch “Frozen”. In theaters soon!
Ruby is an eleven year old Disney fan, and she credits her mom with starting her early love of Disney. In addition to her enthusiasm for Disney, Ruby enjoys singing and writing. She will be reviewing Disney-related topics that are of interest to younger Disney fans—and their parents and grandparents!