Soul: Kemp Powers Talks About the Importance of the Cultural Trust

It's kind of amazing and then depressing when you sit down and realize that one of the things that makes the upcoming Soul unique is that it's the first time Pixar has had a black lead in one of their films. When it comes to proper representation, it is absolutely imperative that there is representation on screen and behind the camera. Pixar seemed to know this, and they brought on the fantastic Kemp Powers as a co-director and writer. He was brought on about two years ago, and during a virtual presentation with the press, Powers talked about the importance and the forming of the internal culture trust for Soul.

"As I said to Pete and Dana from the very beginning, don't represent every single Black person's experience, so it was really important that we reached out further, so we partnered with a number of consultants on this film who we kept close throughout the entire creative process," Powers explained during the virtual presentation. "Right here you see a picture of the African-American Pixar employees who we all drafted to become our internal cultural trust and to make sure that this representation was as genuine and as possible, we also turned to tons of experts outside of Pixar, including many music teachers and working jazz musicians from New York City and right here in Emeryville."

Soul: Kemp Powers Talks About the Importance of the Cultural Trust
In Disney and Pixar's "Soul," a middle-school band teacher named Joe Gardner gets the chance of a lifetime to play the piano in a jazz quartet headed by the great Dorothea Williams. Featuring Jamie Foxx as the voice of Joe Gardner and Angela Bassett as the voice of Dorothea, "Soul" will debut exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) on December 25, 2020. © 2020 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

"And, of course, we went to a group of expert cultural consultants who we relied on to help us make our story look and sound as authentic as possible," Powers continued. "People like Doctor Johnnetta Cole, who Pete mentioned, people like Bradford Young, the famous cinematographer, who contributed a great deal with our lighting team to the look of the film, and even Daveed Diggs and Questlove, two of the performers in the film who were also great cultural consultants as far as music. We took all that research and input from our consultants, and then a-we put it into the script, which we would then hand over to our story team."

It's certainly a shame that Soul isn't getting the big-screen release that everyone involved likely wanted, but it is being presented in a way that will make it accessible during the pandemic. It's not uncommon to watch a movie on Christmas Day; it's often a huge day at movie theaters, so dropping a new Pixar movie on Disney+ on Christmas for everyone to enjoy is Pixar and Disney making the best of this terrible ongoing situation.

A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.

Soul, directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and John Ratzenberger. It will be released on Disney+ on December 25th.

About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at

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