Floyd Norman, Disney’s first African-American animator, spoke recently at Shenandoah, sharing his story about his pioneering work in the world of animation.
The Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business-sponsored talk, held on Feb. 1, in Halpin-Harrison Hall’s Stimpson Auditorium, kicked off Black History Month at Shenandoah. It was also designed to encourage attendees to think about how they might enter the animation field and/or careers related to the arts, entertainment, media management, design and film.
Hired as the first African-American at Disney in 1956, Norman was later hand-picked by Walt Disney to join the story team on “The Jungle Book.” After Walt Disney’s death, Norman left Disney to start his own company – Vignette Films, Inc. – to produce black history films for high schools. He and his partners later worked with Hanna Barbera, and animated the original “Fat Albert Special,” as well as the titles to “Soul Train.” He returned to Disney in the 1980s, eventually working in the story department for “Mulan.” He then moved to Pixar (later acquired by Disney) and worked on “Toy Story 2” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Norman drew a crowd to Stimpson, and senior musical theatre major Christopher Castanho also contributed a piece about Norman’s visit to The Huffington Post.
You can watch the entire masterclass event here:
We're kicking off Black History Month with Floyd Norman, the first African-American animator at Disney! Norman has worked on the story teams of The Jungle Book, Mulan, Toy Story 2, and Monsters Inc.!
Posted by Shenandoah University on Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Although he retired from Disney in 2000 at the age of 65, he wasn’t ready to stop working. Instead, he occupied an empty cubicle at Disney Publishing for years, and was eventually rehired by the company as a consultant. He “plans to die at the drawing board.”
His story is the subject of the documentary, “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life,” which the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema/Film Club 3.0 screened at the Alamo following his appearance at the university. Shenandoah was one of the screening sponsors, along with the Winchester Branch of the NAACP and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.