Director Peter Ramsey is sitting in his office on the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale and recalling a vivid childhood memory. “I remember being in my pajamas in the back of my parents' car at an Inglewood drive-in watching Disney's “Snow White” and being mesmerized,” he says. “We didn't get to go to movies a lot when I was a kid, so when we did, it was such an emotional overwhelming experience. That's where I really got that reverence for movies.”
For an African American inner-city kid from Crenshaw, the dream of making it big in Hollywood seemed almost as fantastical as the movies he watched. “This was way before there even was Spike Lee or John Singleton on the scene,” he says. “It wasn't a case of the doors being open. You just didn't even think those doors existed.”
But today Ramsey, 49, who has worked at DreamWorks for more than eight years, is taking on his first major directing role for one of the company's most ambitious projects, the upcoming CG animated feature, “Rise of the Guardians.” Set for release on Nov. 21, it will mark the first time a big-budget CG animated film is being directed by an African American.