Animator Tony Bancroft became an internet sensation after drawing a series of 2D animations for skier Eileen Gu, who soared to win three medals at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics last month. Her outstanding performance sparked torrents of admiration, and Bancroft wrote on her Instagram account that Gu became an inspiration to girls everywhere to get into athletics and achieve their goals. For Bancroft, a stellar example has infinite power.
The American host does not hide his enthusiasm.
“I was so inspired by how she took her Chinese and American roots and brought them ‘Together for a Shared Future,’ (the slogan of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.) She’s amazing in this she does in skiing and I love how she is an influence on the next generation of female athletes from China and around the world. Like Mulan, Eileen Gu is a strong heroine,” Bancroft said.
Bancroft’s passion for bringing memorable animated films to life has created some of the best characters we all know, including Pumbaa from The Lion KingCrown of The Emperor’s New RoutineIago of Aladdin, Cogsworth from The beauty and the Beast. And as a director, he is best known for directing the film Mulana.
“Disney Mulane was a joy to work with. It wasn’t without its ups and downs, however. It involved a tremendous amount of research and understanding of ancient China, its customs and culture. Of course, anything you learn by researching a movie’s subject matter isn’t used. Then you have to go through the creative but time-consuming process of figuring out what story you want to tell,” he says.
“There are thousands of options and many ways we could have told the story of Mulan. Every time we hit a wall in the process, we always thought about the heart of this female warrior who loved her father so much. She would sacrifice herself, so he could live. Mulan’s heart was what guided our decisions and helped us when the going got tough. The movie Mulan took four years to create and incorporated hundreds of artists, writers, actors and technicians, but it was well worth the trip to bring his story to the world.”
Bancroft says he did it for his three daughters, so they could have a heroine to look up to and now it’s an inspiration to generations of girls.