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Disney Animator Floyd Norman Visits Campus

Disney Animator Floyd Norman Visits Campus

On Friday, October 12, 2018, Disney animator Floyd Norman was on site in UMMA's Helmut Stern Auditorium for a Q&A following a screening of the documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, presented in partnership by the Stamps School of Art & Design and UMMA.

Norman, the first African American animator at Disney, was first hired to work on the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty. Over the span of his sixty-year career, Norman had a hand in blockbuster titles such as The Jungle Book, Monsters Inc, and Mulan. At 80 years old, Norman continues to animate, working as a storyboard artist on Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken. Norman is the 2002 recipient of a Winsor McCay Award for “recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation” and was named a Disney Legend in 2007.

Floyd Norman at the board as an apprentice in-betweener for Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" in 1956.

Approximately 150 students and community members attended Floyd's presentation at UMMA. Stamps student Yazmon Ector (BFA ‘19) moderated the audience Q&A and was also the student who recommended Norman’s visit to campus.

“As a someone who works in storytelling, Floyd is canon,” said Ector. “He’s paved the way for many artists of color since his beginnings at Disney. Floyd is exemplary in what it means to have the courage to pursue your dream and the confidence in your work to not let obstacles stagnate artistic growth.”

During the Q&A session, in response to a question about how he approached landing a job at Disney, Norman replied: “I knew I was good and that I was going to work for Disney. There was no question in what I would do.”

Norman and his wife, Adrienne Brown-Norman, also emphasized the importance of trusting the process of your creative pursuits.

“The Norman’s really pushed the notion of what it would mean for artists — especially artists of color — to get in the mind state of having no limits in spite of those that exist,” said Ector. “Strong self-confidence is more important than ever due to the ways that the animation industry has evolved to become such big-business.”

Brian Banks, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Stamps, added “The take away I heard from a student is simply to go for it. If you desire to be an animator, you can’t let anything stop you from trying to achieve your goal.”

Watch a recording of the Q&A here.