Pixar co-director Kemp Powers hopes 'Soul' inspires sense of worthiness, belonging

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Thursday, December 24, 2020
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In Pixar's new movie "Soul", the lead character is a music teacher whose dream comes true when he gets the opportunity to play at the most popular jazz club in town, but his life takes an unexpected turn when he least expects it.

SAN FRANCISCO -- In Pixar's new movie "Soul," the lead character is a music teacher whose dream comes true when he gets the opportunity to play at the most popular jazz club in town, but his life takes an unexpected turn when he least expects it.

The movie is full of soul-searching and feel-good moments, but also firsts. Not only is "Soul" the first Pixar movie to have a Black lead character, but it's also the first time Pixar has had a Black co-director.

RELATED: Pixar producer Dana Murray explains how Black lead was developed for emotional powerhouse 'Soul'

The man making history is Kemp Powers. He was brought on during the early stages of development to help write the main character, Joe Gardner.

"They brought me in and they showed me a very early cut of the film. And then me and Pete Docter just had a conversation. He just asked me what I thought, and I gave him my honest opinion. I saw a great deal of potential in this story", says Powers.

After many questions and good ideas, Powers got the job.

"Less than a week later, was when he called me back and asked me to come on board."

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There are a lot of similarities between Powers and the main character, however, the character is not solely based on him.

"Joe definitely reflects a lot of elements of who I am. But to say I'm Joe, no, because there are elements of a lot of different peoples' lives on the creative team that are reflected in Joe. I think some of my elements are the most obvious. Of course, being middle-aged Black man from New York City, who goes on the artist journey of Joe is incredibly familiar," says Powers.

The movie is full of captivating characters, alluring music, and outstanding animation but it also has an important message. One that Powers hopes everyone walks away with.

RELATED: Jamie Foxx opens up about role in 'Soul' as Pixar's first Black lead

"I hope this film inspires this feeling of everyone has worth, everyone belongs here, everyone has a right to be here, and everyone has some value."

"Soul" debuts Dec. 25 on Disney+.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Disney+, Pixar and this ABC station.