Watch: Pixar Will Be Bringing Some Soul With Its First Black Lead Character

Soul Official Teaser Trailer / Pixar (YouTube)

Pixar has been known to snatch our thug, whether it’s in the first few minutes of Up (still in awe over how they accomplished this) or with the heartwarming reveal in Coco, and I’m here for it each and every time. Pixar has the concept of “emotional core” on lock.

With its new film, Soul, the animation studio is looking to continue the sobbing party—but this time, the tears will be black, not white.

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Co-directed by Pete Doctor and Kemp Powers (yes, the latter is a black man, y’all!), Soul, starring Jamie Foxx, follows “a musician who has lost his passion for music [who] is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.” As Vulture reported, Soul will mark Pixar’s first film with a black character lead.

The Wrap breaks down the premise a bit more and it’s fascinating:

The film will explore the You Seminar, an academy where souls learn how to build passion within themselves before graduating and inhabiting a newborn child. Foxx plays, Joe Gardner, a man with a deep love for jazz, who is stuck as a middle school music teacher. After years of longing to perform onstage rather than teach, Joe finally gets his big break after an open mic at the Half Note Club that impresses the other players so much that he gets a gig.

But as he celebrates, an accident separates Joe from his soul, and his soul travels back to the You Seminar, where he meets other souls-in-training that help him find his way back to Earth. Among them is 21, played by [Tina] Fey, a soul who has spent eons at the You Seminar and has a dim view of human life.

“What do you want to be known for on earth?” the teaser trailer asks from the jump, highlighting what is arguably the cutest existential thesis known to man.

According to the film’s IMDb page, this movie will definitely be black as hell, with additional cast members lending their voices including Phylicia Rashad (Libba Gardner), Daveed Diggs (Paul) and Ahmir-Khalib Thompson (Curly). You read that right—Questlove is voicing a character in this film, too.

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“Seeing a lead character that looks like me period, is such an inspiration, and to now be working on a film like Soul, animating these characters that I can identify with. I’m at a loss for words. It means more than just seeing it. Feeling like these characters could be your family, is the real thing that I look at,” Pixar Animator Frank Abney told The Root, following the teaser trailer drop. “I feel like we (as an industry) still have some work to do, but we’re making some nice steps in the right direction! Let’s keep going!”

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Soul will ignite our passions when it debuts in theaters on June 19, 2020. As a Pixar stan, I’m selling my soul to get into this world premiere. Okay, I kid, I kid. Or do I?! Either way, inject this film into my veins, thanks.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.