A Rando Predicted Pixar's 'Soul' (Because Of Racism)

A Rando Predicted Pixar's 'Soul' (Because Of Racism)

Pixar Animation Studios are located in Emeryville, California, close to Oakland. When anyone important flies in to work on a Pixar movie, they'll probably land in Oakland, and then Pixar uses a car service to shuttle them where the magic happens. Drivers at this car service who make a bunch of trips for Pixar come to learn a thing or two about how the studio works. 

In 2016, one of these cars carried Kemp Powers, a cowriter on a new project. He didn't expect the driver to make conversation, because drivers rarely do. But this driver (Powers would later recall), looked at him and said, "Level with me, brother. Y'all are making a Black movie, aren't you?"

In fact, they were working on a movie about a jazz musician, and the musician was Black, as were a bunch of other characters. The movie would eventually be called Soul, and it would be a couple more years before Pixar announced it publicly. The driver shouldn't have known anything about it at this point. Powers dodged the question and asked what made the driver ask it. The driver replied that he figured it out because he'd taken several Black people to Pixar HQ, something he'd never before had to do. 

The driver asked Powers what he did at Pixar, and Powers admitted he was a writer. "Man, you know y'all doing a Black movie," said the Black driver, demanding an end to the denials. Powers would actually go on to co-direct Soul, after his initial writing gig ended and Pixar found that he'd put so much into the film, basing the main character on himself. 

We know this anecdote because it came up in an NPR piece. The interviewer, largely unprompted, said "There are not a lot of Black people at Pixar," and then Powers remembered this car story and told it. Possibly, you'd never heard the stereotype that Pixar's staff is largely white (to make Soul authentic, says Pixar, they consulted a panel of Black employees, which would mean there are some Black people at Pixar). But you have heard the stereotype that NPR is largely white, and now you know that someone at NPR thought Pixar's so white, even NPR had to point that out. 

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Top image: Walt Disney Pictures

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