Thursday 18th January 2018,

Bad Ass Asians

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Young Girl’s Love of Kung Fu & Drawing Paved Way for Successful Hollywood Career

posted by Louis Chan
Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Jennifer Yuh Nelson 

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent


Jennifer Yuh Nelson is affirmation that the joys we have early in life can shape our lives later.

The woman best known for directing Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 has been  drawing since the age of 3. When she wasn’t doing that, she was playing with cars and watching kung fu movies.

Fast forward more than 30 years later, Nelson, then a story artist for DreamWorks, asked if she could work on Kung Fu Panda because of her interest in the martial arts. Dream Works agreed, making her the head of story for the movie.

“I didn’t know anything about it except the title,” recalls Nelson in an interview she did with the Animation Guild. But I’ve loved martial arts movies since I was young, and knew I wanted to work on it. Had to work on it. …”

Her work on that movie captured the attention of Dream Work executives and they would later ask her to direct Kung Fu Panda 2. Nelson had never expressed an interest in directing, but DreamWorks knew she was right for the role. Kung Fu Panda 2 was both a commercial and critical success. It grossed $665 million dollars worldwide and was nominated for an Oscar for best animated movie. Her follow up Kung Fu Panda 3 was released in January and has so far grossed $519 million worldwide.

This week Variety reported Nelson will direct her first live action movie, Darkest Minds, for Fox. The movie will be based on the young adult trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. Young survivors of a pandemic develop superpowers.

Nelson has come a long ways since moving from South Korea with her family to California at the age of 4. Now 44, the skies the limit for this Korean American. So parents, develop and encourage playtime and hobbies for your children. It could pay off in ways you least expect.

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