Approximately 150 students spent time with Chagrin Falls High School alumnus Lee Unkrich ‘85, director of Coco, on December 14th in the Black Box Theatre asking questions and learning more about the director’s career and impact Chagrin Falls Schools had on his life. Senior Jack Reboul was the moderator. Unkrich also co-directed Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc.
Unkrich graduated from USC School of Cinema-Television in 1990. He won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year – Toy Story 3 in 2010. In 2011, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Toy Story 3. He has been nominated and won numerous other industry awards throughout his career for Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Coco, and Monsters, Inc.
Unkrich offered several pieces of advice to the students. He encouraged the students to become really good at what they are most passionate about in their lives. “You never know when an opportunity will present itself and you want to be ready when it does.” He also said, “Fear is a good motivating factor. If you are not on the verge of failure, you are not trying hard enough.” Unkrich also shared how there is a Tiger pride bumper sticker on Andy’s car and a Tiger sticker on Andy’s toy box in a scene in Toy Story 3.
Unkrich is married to Laura and they have three children: Max, Alice, and Hannah. The family lives in California. During his visit with Chagrin Falls students, there was a special guest in the audience, his mom, Emilie Unkrich. She shared that her son always wanted to be a movie director like Steven Spielberg since he was a child. “In the movie Coco, one of the themes is to follow your dream. Whatever your dream is, pursue it. That’s what Lee did and I’m very proud of him,” said Unkrich’s mom on encouraging him to follow his filmmaking dream.
Pictured In Cover Photo: Senior Jack Reboul and Chagrin Falls High School alumnus, Lee Unkrich, ’85