Kevin Lima was born and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and has been drawing as long as he can remember. He traces his fascination with animation back his fifth birthday when he received the book, Preston Blair’s Animation. In his young teens, inspiration from his grandmother led him to an association with Marc Kohler’s professional puppetry theater, The Puppet Workshop in Providence, RI. Throughout his high school and college years, he designed, created, performed, wrote and directed puppet shows. He also spent a summer with the renowned Eaves-Brooks Costume Company in New York City, creating costumes for the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus. These eclectic experiences began his life-long fascination with bringing characters of imagination to life. Lima studied acting and theater design at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts before going on to the California Institute of the Arts’ Animation Program.
He took his first animation job designing characters and animating in Taiwan on the independently produced feature, The Brave Little Toaster. In 1987 he joined Walt Disney Animation and animated the character of ‘Fagin’ for Oliver & Company. Lima worked in many capacities on each of Disney Animation’s next five features. He helped design ‘Ursula,’ ‘Flounder,’ and most of the incidental characters for The Little Mermaid; he played a key role in creating the characters of ‘Lumiere,’ ‘Mrs. Potts’ and ‘Cogsworth’ for the 1991 feature, Beauty and the Beast; and he storyboarded sequences for Aladdin. Concurrently during this period, Lima continued to pursue his passion for live theater; directing a community theater production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods.
In 1992, itching to direct, Lima helmed Disney’s A Goofy Movie. Lima’s unexpectedly sensitive handling of material about the ‘Goofy’ character and his son gave the film a surprisingly real, everyday quality that moviegoers of all ages related to. He followed this by directing the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Tarzan. The Tarzan franchise has evolved into a DVD success, an attraction at the Disneyland Parks, a Broadway musical and spawned video premiere sequels. Again ready for new challenges, in 2000 Lima went on to make his live-action directing debut with 102 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close. He followed that by directing Julie Andrews in the television features Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime (2003) for ABC. His work on the latter film won him the Director’s Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs.
His next live-action endeavor, Enchanted, represented a culmination of Lima’s eclectic artistic experiences by being a fairy tale for all ages, which contains a mixture of traditionally hand-drawn animation, computer generated characters, romantic comedy, music, song and action adventure. Enchanted was released during the Thanksgiving holidays, November 2007 and amongst it many nominations and wins that film season, it had three songs nominated in the same year for Best Song at the Academy Awards.
Currently, Kevin and his wife, Brenda Chapman, the Academy Award-winning director of The Prince of Egypt and Brave, are pursuing collaboration opportunities. Together they are working on a film adaptation of the Broadway musical 13: The Musical and are in the beginning stages of starting a production company. Their goal is to create family entertainment in all formats – animated, live-action, hybrid and television.