Here’s a feel-good moment to float you into your weekend: Right now, you can stream a documentary on Netflix called Floyd Norman: An Animated Life. It’s about the titular Norman, a talented animator, storyteller, and longtime Disney employee who just happened to break the studio’s animator color barrier. (As the modest Norman puts it, in his mind he was “just another animator looking for a job.”) The film is an intimate, warm look at the Jackie Robinson of animation, taking in his historic moment as well as the substantial life and work that followed, from The Jungle Book to Monsters, Inc. to his controversial forced retirement from the Mouse House at 65.
Along the way we meet friends and admirers (Whoopi Goldberg among them), including a crew of fellow African-American animators for whom employment at Disney was made permissible, if not possible, by their friend — and occasional frenemy — Floyd Norman. “Now there’s enough of us for us to be mad at each other,” as a fellow black animator puts it. Watch the trailer for An Animated Life and get a first glimpse of Norman’s incredible career milestones, “the Forrest Gump of animation” that he is. Then head to Netflix and watch history being made, again.