We’re already excited for Pixar’s first Black animated film, Soul, to be released this fall. But on top of all of that melanated goodness, there’s also a talented Black team behind the lens bringing the story of a band teacher, who gets the opportunity of a lifetime, to the screen.
During the virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture, the team behind Soul, including director Pete Docter, co-director and screenwriter Kemp Powers, along with producer Dana Murray, showcased a brand new sneak-peek of the forthcoming animated film.
Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher who gets tapped to play at the best jazz club in town. But, of course, that’s when he’s taken to The Great Before, a place where souls meet their personalities before they get zoomed to Earth.
Powers, who was brought on to “help flesh out the characters,” also introduced “a lot of other Black voices” to the film’s process, who were a “huge part of everything we did” to ensure Soul was “authentic and truthful,” he detailed Saturday night.
“I realized in many ways Joe was just like me. I used a lot of my own personal experiences to inform me as I was writing the character,” Powers explained, noting that he was the same age as the character and was also born and raised in New York City like Gardner.
But the screenwriter knew that Soul “had to transcend my own experience,” which is why he tapped a collective of Black artists to bring the story to life.
Musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jon Baptiste, Questlove and Daveed Diggs were on the consulting team along with cinematographer Bradford Young and many Black employees at Pixar.
Disney and Pixar’s Soul, also starring Phylicia Rashad and Angela Bassett, hits theaters November 20.