You might already know her as the genius behind your child’s favorite TV doctor: Doc McStuffins. We sat down for an exclusive interview with Chris Nee,?Executive Producer of the Disney Junior hit show Vampirina. This was part of the #ThorRagnarokEvent press event hosted by Disney.
When I received?the invitation for the #ThorRagnarokEvent my kids were excited just as much as I was- and all for different reasons.
My oldest son gave me a fist bump for THOR: RAGNAROK, my older daughter was dying to hear about the littleBits Star Wars droid, my younger son wanted to hear all about Disneyland and Cars Land Halloween, and my youngest daughter went crazy over Vampirina.
If you’ve met Lucy, you know she’s an inquisitive child.
She has all the best questions and when she’s excited over something,?there is no talking her down. The excitement of the 6-year-old over Vampirina far surpassed anything her siblings were feeling about my trip.
Exclusive Interview With Chris Nee
We counted down the days to October 1 and then gathered in the living room to binge watch the first four shows. And it was a hit!
If you haven’t watched Vampirina yet, sit down with your kiddos and do so. It’s so smart and so very 2017, with characters both you and the kids will relate to.
During the show, Lucy kept asking me if I’d meet Vampirina.
Well, not exactly. But I did have the extreme pleasure of meeting with Chris Nee, the Executive Producer of the show.
I think that’s as close to Vee as one can get!
Writing For Kids and Parents
After we watched one of the new episodes, Chris sat down to answer questions.
One of the very first things I felt about watching Vampirina with Lucy was how great it was for parents as well as kids.
This was a show the whole family could and would watch because it resonated with adults and kids alike.
We wanted to know how she manages this so well because Doc McStuffins was the same way.
Chris Nee:?“I would say that I think it?s incredibly important because what I really want to do is bring families together to watch shows.? And I think those shows that so actively sort of alienate the parents really create the separation in the enjoyment.
I think one of my secrets is often when you ask someone who works in kids TV exclusively, who are you writing for they?ll say, ?the kids.?
And I know that?s the right answer, but I?m writing for myself.
I?m trying to make myself laugh and I?m trying to work out my own stuff and remember my own childhood and remember those feelings and write the world that I hope we can live in, but I?m really writing for myself.
I?m also a mom so, I certainly know what it?s like to want your kid to watch shows that the music is something you can stand ’cause you?re gonna watch it a lot.”
The Music of Vampirina
We love the music in Vampirina. Lucy will stop whatever she is doing to dance and sing along with the show.
And yes, busted. You can find me doing the same thing. I love it, too!
Check out this video from the upcoming episode, Ghoul Girls. Vee jams on the spookylele (a toy that’s on my hot Christmas list for Vampirina lovers, btw!)
You get a small taste of what you’re in store from a musical perspective.
Isabella Crovetti, the voice of Vee, lends a sweet voice to the music of Vampirina.
Chris Nee: “And we got so lucky with Isabella [Crovetti], I mean, can we talk about her singing voice?
She walked into the middle of it [rehearsal] and she actually stopped and said, ?I need to warm up.?
And I was like, ?oh this kid?s a pro.?
Like, in a good way and then she just opened her mouth and we could have taken the first take.
She?s a Broadway level singer who happens to live in LA and we get to take advantage of that. Obviously, I really like Broadway and I put a lot of music in my series.
We have Broadway composers for this show. Dimond and Kooman.
The song in the pilot was their audition song without a change in it.”
Mister Gore, Nee’s Real Life Teacher
While watching the first episodes, I was tweeting along with the new fans of the show.
Chris was too, which was a lot of fun.
One nugget she tossed out to us was that Mister Gore was her sixth-grade teacher!
I had to know a little more about the real-life Mister Gore.
Chris Nee:?”He?s actually kind of different from the character here.
So, Mister Gore was my sixth-grade teacher and he was a Korean War vet and he actually had a plate in his head and he was the guy who always wore the three-piece suit.
So while everyone else, it was, you know, I won?t age myself exactly but it was the nineteen seventies and all the male teachers had the handlebar mustaches and flared pants, and then there was Mister Gore in a three-piece suit and he scared the bejesus out of me.
Every grade from Kindergarten up through Fifth Grade you were terrified of the day that you opened up and found out you had Mister Gore, you were like, ?oh my god, no.?
But every single one of us would say he was one of the greatest teachers I ever had in my entire life from beginning to end.
He just asked so much of us and he knew we could do things that we didn?t know we could do.”
Family on Vampirina
We love Vee’s parents, by the way! Perfectly cast with James Van Der Beek and Lauren Graham as Boris and?Oxana.
One of the questions lead Chris to discuss the parents and how they are portrayed in the series.
Chris Nee: “I love this family and I love seeing a family that feels really real to me.
In animation sometimes, it?s hard to have characters touch each other.
And so, just the amount that the parents hug each other like you actually believe that they?re together which sometimes you don?t in weekly animation.
A lot of that, honest to god, has to do with who you get to voice the characters, but it?s hard to have physical contact.
We got so lucky with the cast and they sound, there?s just such a warmth to the family.”
Girl Power on Vampirina
Chris mentioned that Doc McStuffins was written for her son, and she made a conscious decision to make this story about an African American girl.
Along those lines, it was important for her that Vee be a strong girl character on screen. She felt there needed to be more representation on screen for strong girls.
Chris Nee: “… it was more important to shine a light and bring representation that we know is sorely lacking on the screen.
So, it?s definitely something that I feel passionately about and that will always be the case. I mean will there be a next character that?s a boy? It certainly could be a boy.
It?s just these two, I enjoy being able to bring out what I know girl characters can be, which is anything and everything.”
Because in 2017…
This was my favorite part of the interview.
Listen up, 2017! We’ve got your number and people like Chris are making sure folks are getting the message.
We wanted to know if “The Munster’s” or “The Addams Family” inspired Vampirina in any way.
While she did rewatch and recognize the impact of that history, she wanted to make sure Vampirina was different.
Chris Nee:?”One of the things that was interesting in tackling this was the idea that it is a fine line because obviously so much of the fun is about her keeping her identity secret.
But, I also didn?t want that to be the focus. I think in 2017 it was not okay for someone to want, that her driving goal would be to hide who she was inherently as a character.
First of all, we really wanted to make sure that anyone who ever found out that she was a vampire, loved her anyway. That she was clearly okay with telling people who she was.
I hope that we are you know, that we?re telling the story which is what we?re trying to tell which is, ?this is not a family who?s ashamed of who they are in any way shape or form, they are worried that they?re gonna scare other characters and that there?s gonna be too much attention on them.?
So, we just try to shift it so there are other reasons why it would be best.
But, instead of it being just focused on this thing that she?s trying to keep secret, we try to never tell it in that way.
It?s just in 2017 it can?t be the story.”
I wish I could share all the details of the time we spent with Chris.
She was gracious and funny and open to all our questions. Truly a pleasure to meet and support by watching Vampirina with my littles!
Special screenings of Vampirina will also be taking place at movie theaters across the country in October as part of “Disney Junior at the Movies ? HalloVeen Party!,” presented by Fathom Events.?The screening events will include a never-before-seen episode of “Vampirina,” plus a costume party for kids and families!
Hurry- tonight and Saturday are the only days left.
You can get your tickets here!
VAMPIRINA?(Mondays and Fridays on Disney Junior)
CHRIS NEE (Executive Producer)
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)