‘Beauty and the Beast’ Animator Shares Why He Left Disney

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Belle and Beast dance during ballroom scene

Credit: Disney

With each new generation of artists, the animation industry continues to expand into new fields, mediums, and techniques, but it wouldn’t exist without the countless artists who bring some of our favorite characters to life. However, even the world of Disney Animation can sometimes be a not-so-magical place.

Mushu from Mulan acting scary
Credit: Disney

If you don’t know his name, you definitely know his work. Brother of Tony Bancroft, Tom Bancroft has put his pen to many icons of the Disney Renaissance acting as an animator and character designer for masterpieces such as Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1993), and The Lion King (1994), but he’s perhaps more famously known for creating and animating Mushu for Mulan (1998).

To say he has a story to tell would be an understatement.

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Walt Disney Animation Studios is one of the biggest names in animation, and many iconic filmmakers got their start within its walls. The Disney animators are some of the most gifted artists in the world, but working for the House of Mouse can be a tough business. During a recent commencement address for Lipscomb University, Bancroft shared the story of his time with and away from The Walt Disney Company with this year’s batch of graduates.

“I Thought About My God and My Family,” Says Bancroft


I know this is long but hang on until the end- its worth it. I hope this helps someone, but its my story so please don’t talk it down. Also- is’nt that tassel crazy? I think its alive! #disneyanimator #commencementspeech #disney #animation #topthreethings #graduation2024 #lipscombuniversity

♬ original sound – Tom Bancroft

For many of us Disney fans, we can become so swept up in the magic of the studio’s animated movies that we can often forget just how much blood, sweat, and tears went into making them. Bancroft’s account shares a revealing look at how the projects are made, and what it can be like for those making the magic happen.

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Bancroft’s testimony is not only inspiring for anyone venturing into the workforce like 2024’s graduating class, but anyone venturing into the creative field. While he doesn’t drag Disney through the mud when he talks about leaving the studio, he does paint a more realistic image of how things operate behind some of the world’s most beloved feature films.

Disney Animation: Under the Mouse Ears

Waking Sleeping Beauty Art
Credit: Disney

For dozens of animation and Disney history buffs out there, Bancroft’s story bears a striking resemblance to many of the interviews presented in Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009), especially when talking about the Disney Renaissance. Moreover, he’s not the only famous figure to depart from the studio after a number of successful contribution.

Related: Mickey Mouse and Cinderella Prepare for Historic Vote That Could Alter Their Appearances at Disney Forever

Even after his time with the Walt Disney Company, Tom Bancroft’s work extends far beyond beloved Disney films. As mentioned in the footage above, the animator has also done work for the popular Christian series,VeggieTales, but has also lent his talents to Dreamworks, and even Marvel and DC. Even after all this time, he still doesn’t limit himself to a mouse-shaped box.

Are you a fan of Mr. Bancroft’s work? Tell Inside the Magic in the comments down below!

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