Brenda Chapman (born 1962 or 1963)[1] is an American animator, screenwriter, storyboard artist, and director. In 1998, she became the first woman to direct an animated feature from a major studio, DreamWorks Animation's The Prince of Egypt.[2] In 2012, she directed the Disney/Pixar film Brave with Mark Andrews (and co-direction from Steve Purcell), becoming the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.[3][4]

Brenda Chapman
Chapman at JDIFF 2012
Born1962 or 1963 (age 61–62)
Alma materCalifornia Institute of the Arts
  • Animator
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • storyboard artist
Years active1987–present
Notable work
(m. 1982)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Feature
Brave (2012)

Early life


Chapman was born in Beason, Illinois[5] as the youngest of five.[6] She went to Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois, receiving her Associate of Arts degree.[7] She then moved to California and studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).



During her summer breaks, Chapman began her professional career working in syndicated television animation. In 1987, she graduated with a BFA in character animation, and was hired as a story trainee on The Little Mermaid (1989). Chapman then worked as a storyboard artist on The Rescuers Down Under (1990) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), where she worked closely with Roger Allers to define many of the key sequences and motifs used in the film. She later served as head of story, the first woman to do so in an animated feature film, for The Lion King (1994).

Chapman joined DreamWorks Animation at its inception in the fall of 1994. Chapman was one of a team of three directors who worked on 1998's The Prince of Egypt, along with Steve Hickner and Simon Wells. She became the first female director for an animated feature by a major studio;[4] three others had previously helmed independent efforts including Lotte Reiniger of The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), Joy Batchelor of Animal Farm (1954), and Arna Selznick of The Care Bears Movie (1985).[4][8] She also worked on Chicken Run, and several projects in development while at DreamWorks before leaving the studio on maternity leave.[9] In May 2003, Chapman and Allers were announced to direct Tam Lin, an adaptation of the Scottish folk ballad, for Sony Pictures Animation.[10]

However, later that same year, Chapman moved to Pixar after being invited by her old colleague Joe Ranft, where she had a brief stint on Cars (2006) before developing The Bear and the Bow, which was re-titled Brave (2012).[9] In April 2008, Chapman was announced as the director of the film, making her Pixar's first female director.[11][12] In October 2010, however, she was replaced by Mark Andrews following creative disagreements between her and John Lasseter.[13] There were rumors that she subsequently left Pixar, but she remained on staff until shortly after the film's release.[14] By July 2012, Chapman worked as a consultant at Lucasfilm Animation,[15] helping to resolve story problems on Strange Magic (2015).[16][17][18] When asked whether she will return to Pixar, Chapman responded by saying she has no desire to go back there feeling that "[t]he atmosphere and the leadership doesn't fit well with me."[16]

In 2013, she returned to DreamWorks Animation,[1][19] where she helped in developing Rumblewick that had a strong female protagonist and was described as "funny with magic and heart."[16][20] Chapman then left DreamWorks shortly afterwards.[9] As of 2016, she began developing projects for Chapman Lima Productions, with her husband Kevin Lima.[20][21]

In May 2016, it was reported that Chapman would make her live-action directorial debut with Come Away (2020), a fantasy drama that serves as a prequel to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.[22] In May 2018, it was reported that Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo were portraying the parents of Alice and Peter, with both actors also serving as producers.[23] Anna Chancellor and Clarke Peters joined the cast in August, with filming in London starting that same month.[24]

In February 2020, it was reported that Chapman was attached to write and direct a live-action hybrid film adaptation of Ghost Squad.[25] In December of that year, Chapman stated she had "kind of stepped away" from the project, deciding instead to work on other projects with Lima. She also stated she was writing "a novel and thinking about turning it into an animated screenplay."[26]

Personal life


Chapman is married to director Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie, Tarzan, Enchanted), whom she met at California Institute of the Arts.[1] They have a daughter, Emma Rose Lima (b. 1999), who was the inspiration for Mérida, Brave's young princess.[1][19][27] They reside in Tamalpais Valley, California.[28] Chapman claims Scottish ancestry.[14] In 2014, Chapman urged Scots to back independence in the September referendum.[29]



Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Story
Other Voice Role Notes
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit No No No No Yes In-between Artist: Additional Animation
Oliver & Company No No No No Yes
1989 The Little Mermaid No No No Yes No
1990 The Rescuers Down Under No No No Yes No
1991 Beauty and the Beast No No No Yes No
1994 The Lion King No No Yes No No Artistic Supervisor - Story
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame No No No Yes No
1998 The Prince of Egypt Yes No No No Yes Miriam (singing)
1999 Fantasia 2000 No No No No Yes Original Concept: "The Pines of Rome"
2000 The Road to El Dorado No No No Additional No
Chicken Run No No No Additional No
2001 Shrek No No No No Yes Special Thanks
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas No No No No Yes
2006 Cars No No No Yes No
2007 Ratatouille No No No No Yes Pixar Productions
2008 WALL-E No No No No Yes Pixar Senior Creative Team
2009 Up No No No No Yes Dog[30]
2010 Toy Story 3 No No No No Yes
2011 Cars 2 No No No No Yes
2012 Brave Yes Yes No No Yes
2015 Strange Magic No No No No Yes Imp Story Consultant
2019 The Lion King No No No No Yes Thanks
2020 Come Away Yes No No No No


Year Title Notes
1984 Heathcliff lip sync checker
21 episodes
1985–1986 Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling character designer
5 episodes
1986 Dennis the Menace lip sync checker
65 episodes
1986–1987 The Real Ghostbusters animator
76 episodes
lip sync checker
2 episodes
1997 Cartoon Sushi special thanks
1 episode


  1. ^ a b c d Liberatore, Paul (February 27, 2013). "Marin's Brenda Chapman shares Oscar glory for 'Brave' with her teenage daugthter". Marin Independent Journal. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  2. ^ Mallory, Michael (March 2012). "Brenda Chapman and the See-Through Ceiling". Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Sperling, Nicole (May 25, 2011). "When the glass ceiling crashed on Brenda Chapman". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Mallory, Michael (March 19, 2000). "Move Over, Old Men; Disney's fabled favorite artists weren't alone in the male-ruled animation world. Now women are in key jobs, and they aim to stay". Los Angeles Times. p. CALENDAR 8. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  5. ^ Laura (October 20, 2011). "Brenda Chapman". Animation Insider. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  6. ^ Poluan, Illona (November 30, 2012). "Interview with Brenda Chapman: storyteller, animator and director". 99 Designs. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  7. ^ Vorel, Jim (May 9, 2013). "Lincoln grad proud of her 'Brave' Oscar". Herald & Review. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. p. 48. ISBN 1-55652-591-5 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b c Radulovic, Petrana (December 17, 2018). "Prince of Egypt director Brenda Chapman: 'We wanted to do something that reached more adults'". Polygon. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Harris, Dana (May 8, 2003). "Sony tooning new animation unit". Variety. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  11. ^ Hayes, Dade; Fritz, Ben (April 8, 2008). "Disney unveils animation slate". Variety. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  12. ^ Powers, Lindsay (October 14, 2010). "Pixar announces first female director". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  13. ^ Sperling, Nicole (May 25, 2011). "When the glass ceiling crashed on Brenda Chapman". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Griffin, Andy. "Interview Part II: Brave". Pixar Portal. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  15. ^ Griffin, Andy. "Brenda Chapman Leaves Pixar for Lucasfilm". Pixar Portal. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  16. ^ a b c Schavemaker, Peter (June 11, 2013). "An Interview From Abroad with Brenda Chapman". Animation Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  17. ^ "Surprise! George Lucas Wrote A Disney Animated Movie Called 'Strange Magic' & It Comes Out January 2015". Indiewire. November 11, 2014. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  18. ^ Harris, Jeffrey (January 23, 2015). "Strange Magic Review". 411MANIA. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  19. ^ a b McIver, Brian (December 9, 2012). "Director behind Brave reveals her agony at getting kicked off film". Daily Record. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  20. ^ a b Brenda Chapman (September 26, 2016). "Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman". Cartoon Brew (Interview). Interviewed by Ian Failes. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "Story and Technology". Siggraph. June 19, 2015. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  22. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 11, 2016). "'Brave' Director Brenda Chapman To Make Live-Action Debut With 'Come Away'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  23. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 30, 2018). "Angelina Jolie & David Oyelowo To Star In Fantasy 'Come Away'; 'Brave' Helmer Brenda Chapman's Live-Action Debut". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  24. ^ Hipes, Patrick (August 10, 2018). "'Come Away' Fantasy Pic Starring Angelina Jolie And David Oyelowo Adds Cast, Begins Shoot". Deadline Hollywood.
  25. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (February 5, 2020). "'Come Away' Director Brenda Chapman To Direct 'Ghost Squad' Adaptation Based On Upcoming Scholastic Book". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  26. ^ Erbland, Kate (November 15, 2020). "'Brave' Oscar Winner Brenda Chapman Teases a Possible Return to Animation". Indiewire. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  27. ^ Moody, Annemarie (April 9, 2008). "Disney Taps Deep Into DNA In Unveiling Animation Slate". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  28. ^ Welte, Jim (March 12, 2013). "Tam Valley's Brenda Chapman Basks in Post-Oscar Glory". Mill Valley Patch. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  29. ^ Miller, Phil (April 17, 2014). "Brave creator urges Scots to back Yes". Herald Scotland. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  30. ^ Griffin, Andy (December 7, 2011). "Brenda Chapman Interview Part I: Career". Pixar Portal. Retrieved January 17, 2021.