Director & Animator, Pixar
If you saw The Incredibles 2 in theatres this year, you likely caught Bao, the short film about a woman and the dumpling she raises as her son after it comes unexpectedly to life, which played before the main feature. The animated short was inspired by writer and director Domee Shi’s own life growing up as an only child in Toronto; sheltered by her Chinese mother, who Shi exclaims “treated me like a little precious dumpling,” the film explores the struggles that empty-nesters face in letting go. Since Pixar was first founded in the mid-1980s, there have been roughly 35 Pixar short films, and until now, none of them have been directed by a woman. Despite having only begun her career as a Pixar intern just seven years ago, with Bao, Shi is now the first female ever at the studio with a solo directing credit to her name.