Davy Liu is a Chinese Forrest Gump.
He’s also a former Disney animator who’s worked on Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, Atlantis and Star Wars, and is the founder of Kendu Films.
Fun Fact: General Shang in Mulan was drawn based off Davy! There's an uncanny likeness between both fo them.
Given Davy’s illustrious career, you would’ve thought that he’s had a smooth career trajectory but that’s hardly the case.
He struggled while growing up in Taiwan, where everyone was expected to score straight As but he just couldn’t.
Instead, he had the gift of drawing straight lines. And being an artist was not on the cards.
When he later moved to the US, he was placed in an all-black school (everyone thought he was Bruce Lee!).
While there, Poppy Kincaid, his 8th grade art teacher, transformed his life. Telling him that “he could do it”.
He ended up going to art school (then dropping out when he realised fine arts wasn’t for him), and had to apply 4 times to get into Disney!!
Davy intended only to be in Disney for 3 months but that turned into 5 years, and in this STIMY episode, Davy shares what it was like working on some of the most iconic Disney animation films to date, as well as what it takes to craft a great story.
We also talked about his faith, why he quit his cushy 6-figure Disney job, the terrible period straight after quitting where he lost everything (his marriage, finances etc.) and how he built himself back up.
Davy’s story is one of passion and having the gumption and determination to go after what you want.
And also the stark difference between Asia and the West.
2:34 Being “dead” in his mother’s womb for 10 days
5:03 Being dumber than Forrest Gump
6:37 Moving to an all-black school in Florida
8:22 How Poppy Kincaid, his 8th grade art teacher, changed his life
13:17 Dropping out of fine arts
16:02 Seeing himself as an artist
17:21 Nearly drowning
21:58 Applying to Disney
23:22 Working at Disney
26:07 Disney animation films take 4 years to complete - here’s why
29:53 Pushing boundaries v generating revenue
32:59 What makes a good story?
34:11 No one wanted to work on The Lion King!
35:27 Disney doesn’t teach you to draw cartoon characters; it teaches you to make the best commercials
39:31 Working on Mulan
41:05 The backstory to Mushu the Dragon
42:20 How to make Asians more creative?
46:15 Entering a dark period after quitting Disney
49:16 Feeling that God had abandoned him
50:49 Vision behind Kendu Films
51:25 Power of telling stories from an animal’s perspective
55:28 What’s next?
P/S: There’s a special episode focused on Questions from STIMY Audience Segment where Davy answers questions submitted by you! The episode will be released this Wednesday.
📍Show notes: www.sothisismywhy.com/99
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