Rashida Jones Quit Toy Story 4, Called Out Disney, And Still Got Paid
I’ve always liked to read the credits at the end of movies. When I was a child, I would look and see if there were any “Veronicas” involved in the production. But as I got older and more immersed in and enamored by pop culture, the more I started recognizing those names from other movies and television shows. It’s an interesting exercise because sometimes you learn about people being connected to things you wouldn’t think they’d be. (Like Whitney Houston producing Princess Diaries.)
This past weekend, I saw another familiar name when my sister and I went to see Toy Story 4 this weekend. One of the first names that rolled was Rashida Jones. As in “Ann” from “Parks and Recreation” and for most Black people, the daughter of Quincy Jones.
I knew that this wasn’t Jones’ first foray with film. She directed the documentary about young girls in the porn industry Hot Girls Wanted. And she masterfully told the story of her father’s life in the Netflix doc Quincy. But writing the story for a Disney franchise is different and next level in terms of industry achievement.
After I saw her name, I did what I normally do when I learn new, surprising information, I go to Google. I wanted to know why I hadn’t heard her–a partially Black woman– speaking about her involvement in this franchise.
Rashida Jones + Toy Story
The answer popped up immediately.
A headline a month ago from Indie Wire read: “Rashida Jones Says ‘Toy Story 4’ Departure ‘Was Complicated,’ Cites Pixar’s Bad Track Record of Women Directors”
Oh, so there was drama.
When Toy Story 4 was announced in 2014, Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack were said to be writing the script along with a handful of other people. The two, who’d co-written Celeste and Jesse Forever were likely tapped because Toy Story 4 takes a more romantic turn. In 2014, John Lasseter, the franchise’s original writer and first director, was also head of Pixar at this point. But in 2017, he was accused of misconduct and subsequently stepped down.
Shortly after, Jones and McMormick left Pixar. A statement, from both Jones and McCormack, made to Entertainment Weekly explained the departure.
“We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”
Later, Jones noted that of Pixar’s 20 films, only one has been directed by a woman (Brave by Brenda Chapman) and she was fired.
The consensus is that Jones wasn’t given creative control during the writing process.
Jones said that while Pixar’s demographics are similar to most Hollywood studios, she had to hold herself accountable and step away from the opportunity.
“All I can be is myself, and speak up and be honest when I feel things don’t reflect the world as it today. As a corporation, you will be held accountable.”
Personally, I’m impressed. Pixar is a separate branch but still, they are a subsidiary of Disney and with the media monopoly Disney is slowly building, speaking out against them could be damaging to her career. Yet she did it anyway.
And since Rashida had likely done quite a bit of work from 2014 to 2017 and her name was still included in the credits, she got paid for this film. Nothing like a woman with a check and a conscience.