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Director Kris Wimberly Shows The Power of The Process With Latest Disney 'Firebuds' Series

Fathers, there is a new series coming for you to enjoy with your young kids. Disney is set to launch their latest animated series Firebuds on September 21. Directed by Kris Wimberly, the animated comedy-adventure from Disney Branded Television features a team of young first responders and their talking vehicle sidekicks. The music-filled series follows a group of friends, all children of first responders, who embark on adventures to help their community and learn what it truly means to be a hero.

The new animated series is set in a fantastical world where talking vehicles live, work and play with the humans who drive them. Firebuds follows a boy named Bo and his fire engine best friend Flash as they team up with their first responder friends to help others in their community with problems big and small. Each episode is comprised of two 11-minute stories that showcase the importance of teamwork, helping fellow citizens and volunteerism.

The series comes at a perfect time, as representation in the content we consume continues to be a hot topic. Firebuds enters the conversation to show that diversity should be seen long before our teenage years, and having representation should start at a young age.

When the trailer to Disney's latest iteration of The Little Mermaid premiered, many already knew the backlash the studio would face for casting singer/actress Halle Bailey as the lead role of Ariel. It wasn't a surprise that the trailer caused many think pieces from those who believe there is a "woke" agenda. Viewers stormed YouTube to press the disliked button in waves, ultimately causing YouTube to disable the feature, all because of those who did not want others to see a refection of themselves as a Disney princess ( a fictional mermaid).

With ten years in animation, Wimberly knows that it is important for you kids to see themselves on screen. "I don't take it lightly," he says regarding being a Black director who works in animation. During our discussion, it was easy to see his love for animation. With more conversations around how the Black community see themselves, Firebuds is a welcomed treat to prove why the conversation matters. "The show celebrates kids who look up to their parents," Wimberly explains.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world stopped to finally recognize how important first responders are. Firebuds strategically creates an opportunity to entertain young kids, but also make sure there is a message in the show.

Wimberly learned strategy as a young child. He remembers knowing he wanted to work in the world of animation, but he "didn't have the language to explain it." Although he did not have much encouragement, he continued on his path. As his education continued, Wimberly understood better what he wanted to do. As he came out of art school, the director took a job as a custodian at Disneyland, and made sure to be unapologetic about where he wanted to be in his career. Years later, not only is he helming Firebuds, but he has also created his own independent Black-owned animation company, Studio Smokescreen.

Watch our interview to learn how a Paula Abdul video helped inspire him, his thoughts about animation for the Black community, and what is next for his career.


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