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

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turn red, Pixar’s latest film, may seem like your typical coming-of-age flick, but it’s something unique and far more entertaining. the new movie premiering Friday, March 11 on Disney Plus and centers on Meilin, a confident and silly eighth grader, as she grapples with puberty, adolescence, and learning who she is. Oh, and she has one more unexpected thing to deal with: whenever her emotions get too strong, she turns into a giant red panda.

Turning Red is directed and co-written by Domee Shi, who directed the brilliant Pixar short film Bao. The other creative force behind the story and screenplay is 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 kind of a classic coming-of-age story, but told in a not-so-classic way. It’s about a 13-year-old Asian Canadian girl, or I guess, a North American Asian girl growing up with a strong, larger-than-life mother,” Cho said. “The movie is a combination of classic mother/daughter shenanigans and crazy red panda.

The movie is set in 2002 Canada because that’s where Shi grew up. This not-too-distant setting allows Turning Red to be funny and relatable while viewing the story from a contemporary perspective. A good example of this is how Meilin and his friends become obsessed with the fictional boy band 4 Town. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas wrote the songs 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 talks about her career as a playwright, overcoming writer’s block, and how working on Turning Red made her obsessed with K-pop.

“I’m maybe a little too obsessed with K-pop boy groups, especially dance videos,” Cho said. “I lived in New York, there was like modern dance everywhere. And I see these guys moving and I’m like, ‘This is art.'”

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