“I have always loved animation and family movies,” says Vanessa Morrison, Fox Animation Studios president, during a recent interview where she discussed her involvement with the ICE AGE series and her career. As president, Morrison oversees the development, production and marketing of family-friendly movies.
“My first animated movie was probably Sleeping Beauty. I started my career working in live-action and always gravitated toward family movies. I worked on movies like Dr. Dolittle, Cheaper by the Dozen and Garfield. My passion from childhood always carried into my professional life working in the movies. The passion for live action translated into an interest in animation career wise. From the beginning, I had an interest in animation and family movies that I never lost,” she says.
During her tenure in the studio’s live-action division, she also spearheaded production of Fat Albert, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, Rio and Peanuts.
The fifth installment of Ice Age film franchise the Ice Age: Collision Course, introduces a Yogi Shangri Llama, voiced by animation newbie actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson who joins the voice talents of Queen Latifah (Ellie), Keke Palmer (Peaches), Ray Romano (Manny), Denis Leary (Diego), John Leguizamo (Sid) and Wanda Sykes (Granny).
“In this installment, we wanted to stay in the Ice Age while taking you to a different environment [and] world than you’ve ever been in before. The filmmakers conceived this notion that when Scrat [Chris Wege] puts their Ice Age world in jeopardy, the audience would enter a whole different place that sounded different, that had characters that looked unlike any Ice Age characters we’d ever seen before. They created this magnificent world, Geotopia, and we wanted a character that embodied that and who was their leader. The Shangri Llama is this fantastic character that Jesse Tyler Ferguson brought his special spirit to. A character that through his performance and through the design and his environment feels unlike any character we’ve ever seen in the Ice Age,” she shares.
Morrison was named president of the animation division in 2007 after serving as executive vp for the studio proper. She was previously a SVP production and VP production. She majored in rhetoric at UC Berkeley and took classes in experimental film and critical studies. She started her career at FOX as a paid intern reading manuscripts.
“I always loved movies and storytelling. I’m always quick to point out that movies are a good extension of storytelling and really literature also,” says the Berkeley, California, native.