Jennifer Yuh Nelson: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ Director Thrives on Action | Variety
Soft-spoken helmer thrives on movie action
Born in South Korea, the star DreamWorks Animation director moved to California when she was 4 years old. Raised by a family of artists, Yuh Nelson and her sisters sketched constantly, telling stories with pictures and holding competitive “draw-offs” around the coffee table. A quick learner, she picked up English — and a lifelong appetite for kung fu — in three months by watching TV, mostly cartoons and action movies.
“I’ve been watching things like ‘Master of the Flying Guillotine’ since I was 5,” says Yuh Nelson, referring to the bloody wuxia classic — not at all suitable for young viewers — in which an assassin roams the countryside decapitating his victims with a boomerang-style blade.
Now, nearly four decades later, Yuh Nelson is the custodian of the most successful martial arts film series on earth, animated or otherwise. That’s a big reason Nelson was the 2016 recipient of Variety’s Creative Impact in Animation honor. CalArts’ Maureen Furniss was also honored with Variety’s Creative Impact in Animation Education Award.