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An Animator's Journey from Dream to Reality: Kim Leow Spills Her Story

March 27, 2024 | Campus News

The spotlight’s on Kim Leow. A Malaysian artist engaged with Pixar Animation Studios, her role as an animator is to bring 3D characters to life and giving them personalities that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Almost every aspiring animator dreams of working in an animation powerhouse such as Disney and Pixar one day, to work for the same company and with the people who have been producing the beloved animated films that they grew up watching.

In the world of animation, Kim Leow stands out as a testament to passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of dreams. From her humble beginnings at The One Academy to her current role at Pixar Animation Studios, Kim's journey is a remarkable tale of determination and hard work.

Hailing from Cheras, she remembers growing up as a very active kid who loved to play with her three sisters and their pet dogs in the outdoors. She vividly recalled her childhood through her mother's lens, as her mother had a passion for photography.

“I remember drawing my dad a portrait of him, and it made my parents really happy. They were like, “Where did you find this talent?” Maybe because it made them feel so happy, I just kept doing it.”

Though knowing her love for art and desire to work in the industry, she was unsure of which sector to pursue, and animation hadn't crossed her mind. When she visited The One Academy and saw many like-minded artists, it inspired her to give the Digital Animation course a try. Despite the challenges of being a female in a male-dominated industry, she was determined to prove herself.

“Maybe because I’m more of a person who’s like, if you say I can’t do it, I’ll show you what I can do.”

She expressed a profound love for the 2D animation class, where she remembers having a hard time keeping up with the volume of drawings, but felt a deep connection to the craft. She mentioned having learnt the most through that class – where just with a pen and a stack of papers, she was able to animate an object emoting and having physicality.

After graduating in the early 2000s, she began her career locally by working on commercials. Though scarce, the animating work that was given made her realise her passion for character animation. However, the commercial production setting did not provide enough opportunities for her to excel and grow as the artist she wants to be.

“I like observing stuff, I like acting and performance but I’m not good in front of cameras. I like to be behind the scenes. Animation is a craft where you can really do good storytelling with art. And, I can do it myself—if I want five characters in my short film, I can give them personalities. I feel powerful, creating something from scratch, and animation gave me that room.”

Determined to pursue her dreams, Kim made the bold decision to move abroad, seeking the kind of creative freedom and growth that she craved. With a traditional dad who was a businessman, he didn’t believe that artists could make money. Part of her wanted to prove him wrong, that she could do it without his help.

“He supported my education, just didn’t agree with what I wanted to do. In the end, he still supported my decision.”

Her journey took her through various renowned studios like Sony Picture Imageworks, Animal Logic, Cinesite, and ToonBox Entertainment, each experience shaping her into the animator she is today. However, it was her role at Pixar that truly fulfilled her dreams.

“I’ve always wanted to animate one of their characters and be behind, seeing how they come up with those ideas. It’s a dream come true now that I get to see how they make their movies. I have to say they have the best process in creating lovable characters that we all connect with.”

She now has 15 years of experience as an animator, having contributed to animated films such as The Lego Movie 2, Hotel Transylvania 4, Over The Moon, Spirit Untamed, Wish Dragon and The Addams Family. Her most recent work had been for Disney and Pixar’s Elemental. She has lent her talent to Inside Out 2, scheduled to release in June this year, and is currently working on Win or Lose – Pixar’s first-ever original animated series, and Elio, an animated film about humans and aliens set to release in 2025.

However, Kim's path to Pixar was far from straightforward. She encountered numerous obstacles, from the language barrier to work permits and visas. However, she was not one to be deterred. Her perseverance paid off when, during the pandemic, an opportunity to work remotely for Pixar presented itself. With a quick reel put together and a stroke of luck, Kim found herself at Pixar's doorstep, ready to make her mark.

"I never thought I’d be working at Pixar. It still feels surreal to me but I’m glad I’m part of it though. I don’t know how I got in, it just kind of fell in place and followed through. It’s a lot of luck and the right timing to have gotten me into Pixar."

Despite her achievements, Kim remains humble and grounded, always striving to improve and learn. Her journey has not been without sacrifice, as she grapples with being far away from her family in Malaysia. Yet, her passion for animation and storytelling drives her forward, reminding her that every sacrifice is worth it in pursuit of her dreams.

Kim's story serves as an inspiration to aspiring animators everywhere. As she continues to push boundaries and challenge herself, one thing is certain—her passion for animation will continue to shine through in everything she creates.

"If you would do anything, do it with heart and give it your one hundred and ten percent. Just don't give up and keep trying. You’d never know where it would lead you.”

The One Academy is committed to providing the best art education programmes and continues to nurture its students passionately through its “Masters Train Masters” coaching philosophy, which has been practised for 33 years, by providing diploma and degree courses in Advertising & Graphic Design, Digital Animation, Digital Media Design, Film Visual Effects, Interior Architecture & Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Paris Fashion Design & Pattern Making, Computer Science & Game Design. For more information, visit or call 03-7875 5510 or e-mail your enquiries to [email protected].

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