Brave producer Katherine Sarafian is especially attached to her latest Pixar film as it hits truly close to home. The movie features the studio’s first female heroine and for the producer, it has produced a kinship to her younger self. “It feels like a full circle thing from my childhood to my professional life to fulfill my fantasies of what a really powerful woman can be,” she said. Sarafian is visiting with Movie Fanatic on the Pixar grounds in Northern California after she showed us 30 minutes of the film that arrives June 22.
Her enthusiasm for the project is palpable, from when we first met her at D23 to sitting in her Pixar office. “On a personal level, I was that girl,” she said of Brave’s Merida. The Scottish princess is expected to marry a suitor from a nearby Highland kingdom. She would rather live a life of adventure. “Everybody wants to be seen for who they are. You want to speak your truth. It’s hard, when you’re not quite understood and people have expectations for what you should be.”
Not only is the film impeccably set to resonate with audiences across the board, but mirrors the producer’s professional journey as well.
“It’s relatable for a lot of people, but I found it incredibly relatable given my own teen years… pretty much my whole life until I landed at Pixar. This is the first place where I feel I actually fit. I think Merida spends all the happiest times of her life where she really fits, which is out in the woods. Her hair flows. She’s riding her horse shooting targets and really being free. That doesn’t involve a big society of people. Her best friend is her horse. That’s life to her. It’s not the most popular choice for someone who has expectations for her. I found that really relatable.”
Talking about presenting the esteemed studio’s first female protagonist in Brave brings her to tears as she describes how deeply personal the film is to her and how she feels it has the power to inspire millions of little girls seeking to find their own way. “I’m sorry, I’m having a bit of an emotional response to the question,” she said and paused.
“It comes back to, for me personally, I was a film nerd and grew up always obsessed with these really fantastic female protagonists -- but they all had some magical ability. Whether it was Samantha on Bewitched, Wonder Woman or the Bionic Woman… I was obsessed. But they had some exceptional abilities that were not really human. What felt so amazing for me working on Brave, is now I finally get to shepherd and champion a story that has someone at the center of it who can make that kind of impact on the world. She’s heroic, brave and strong… without any superhero powers at all. She’s just skilled, smart, resilient and flawed, of course. She’s real -- of course she’s an animated character [laughs]. But, that’s a role model that kids can actually see and say, ‘I can do that. I can be that.’”