The most thrilling ride for Jenni Magee-Cook, Arts ’92, didn’t happen on a roller coaster.
It happened in the middle of the Nevada desert, after Magee-Cook pulled her Honda Accord off the road to call home and pick up messages. That’s when she heard the job offer of her dreams from Disney in California. She started “at the bottom of the starting point,” she says, as a production assistant in 1995. “I worked at every level between PA and producer. It was like a second college education.”
That was a leap for a woman who transferred to Marquette to shadow the physical therapy program. After graduating, Magee-Cook’s plans still included one day getting a PT degree. Then a friend mentioned a job opening at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
“When I walked in the doors at Disney, my eyes lit up,” she remembers. “There was a slow awakening in me of how much I love the creative process of storytelling.”
Magee-Cook worked on teams that produced wonderful films, including The Emperor’s New Groove, Brother Bear and Mulan. Recently, she was the producer of Disneytoon Studios’ The Pirate Fairy, partnering with director Peggy Holmes to assemble the “correct” team to bring the director’s story to life. “There is different chemistry for every film,” she explains.
The biggest charge, Magee-Cook says, is the moment everything comes together. “We work so hard on a movie. Then you get to the scoring session on the huge sound lot and the orchestra warms up, and you hear this swirl of sound that’s so big with the pictures playing … it makes the hair on your arms stand up.” — Joni Moths Mueller