The Breakdown of Female Directors in Animation (1988-2013): A Brief Overview

In the last 25 years of mainstream animated features, there have been only 11 movies total that feature a female director or co-director (out of a possible 148 movies from my sample…) Dreamworks Animation clearly leads the pack, employing 5 out of the 10 female directors:

  • Jennifer Lee, co-director with Chris Buck for Frozen (2013) under Walt Disney Animation 
  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson, sole director for Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) under DreamWorks Animation
  • Brenda Chapman, co-director with Mark Andrews for Brave (2011) under Pixar Animation* (but replaced by Mark Andrews for creative disagreements) 
  • Sarah Smith, sole director for Arthur Christmas (2011) under Aardman Animation and Sony Pictures Animation
  • Jill Culton, co-director with Roger Allers and Anthony Stacchi for Open Season (2006) under Sony Pictures Animation
  • Vicky Jenson, co-director with Bibo Bergerson and Rob Letterman for Shark Tale (2001) under Dreamworks Animation
  • Lorna Cook, co-director with Kelly Asbury for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) under DreamWorks Animation
  • Cathy Malkasian, co-director with Jeff McGarth for The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002) under Nickelodeon Movies
  • Vicky Jenson, co-director with Andrew Adamson for Shrek (2001) under DreamWorks Animation
  • Jun Falkenstein, sole director for The Tigger Movie (2000) under DisneyToon Studios
  • Brenda Chapman, co-director with Simon Wells and Steve Hickner for The Prince of Egypt (1999): DreamWorks Animation 

But the three women who have the distinction of being sole directors of a Major Hollywood animated feature? These ladies right here:


    Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Kung Fu Panda 2 


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         Sarah Smith, Arthur Christmas 


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        Jun Falkenstein, The Tigger Movie