Abney sees a hole in today’s animation, and hopes to fill it. Specifically, he wants to work on projects that spotlight strong African-American characters and illuminate key events from African-American history. “I don’t know if much of that has been done, at least not lately in the animation field,” he says.
Abney, whose most recent project was DreamWorks Animation’s family-friendly “Kung Fu Panda 3,” says he hopes to tackle heavier subject matter, with stories that speak to a more mature audience.
“I feel like animation is held at this level where it’s just for kids,” he says, “but it’s a medium to tell stories so we can pretty much do anything if we wanted to, but I don’t know if many will take that risk.”
Abney was just 2 years old when he started drawing; “I got hooked pretty early,” he laughs.
“The Lion King” resonated strongly with young Abney. His own father passed away when he was just 5, and he found comfort in the story of a lion cub who also loses his dad. “Even then, I felt how powerful it was for these stories to connect with people,” he says. “and I knew I wanted to do something like that.” — Alyssa Sage