Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ Made Its Writer Obsessed With Boy Bands and K-Pop

Julia Cho is an accomplished playwright and co-wrote the new Pixar film Turning Red.

Deborah Coleman/Pixar

This story is part of I’m So Obsessed (subscribe here)our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.

Turning Red, the latest film from Pixar, might seem like your typical coming-of-age film, but it is something unique and much more entertaining. the new film premieres Friday March 11 on Disney Plus and is centered on the confident, dorky eighth grader Meilin as she tackles puberty, adolescence and learning who she is. Oh, and she has one more unexpected thing to deal with: Anytime her emotions get too strong, she turns into a giant red panda.

Turning Red is directed and co-written by Domee Shi, who made the brilliant Pixar short Bao. The other creative force behind the story and script is the award-winning playwright Julia Cho. Cho was on CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast to discuss Turning Red and working for Pixar.

“Turning Red is a kind of classic coming-of-age story, but told in a not so classic way. It’s about a young, 13-year-old Asian Canadian, or I guess, Asian North American girl who is growing up with a strong, larger-than-life mother,” said Cho. “The movie is a combination of classic mother/daughter and crazy red panda shenanigans.”

The film is set in 2002 in Canada because that’s where Shi grew up. That not-too-distant setting allows Turning Red to be funny and relatable while also viewing the story through a contemporary perspective. A great example of this is how Meilin and her friends de ella become obsessed with the fictional boy band 4 Town. Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and her brother Ella Finneas wrote the songs that 4 Town performs in the film.

You can listen to my full interview with Cho in the podcast player at the top of this article. Cho opens up about her career as a playwright, overcoming writer’s block and how working on Turning Red got her obsessed with K-pop.

“I might be a little bit too obsessed with K-pop boy bands, in particular dance videos,” said Cho. “I lived in New York, there was like modern dance happening all over the place. And I see these guys move and I’m like, ‘This is art.'”

Subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.

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