Joy standing next to Anxiety in Inside Out 2
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

‘Inside Out 2’ Director on Telling a Story For Young People to Relate to

Kelsey Mann took on the task of directing Inside Out 2 and making sure that it represented the experience of being a young girl. Thanks to “Riley’s Crew,” a group of young teenage girls who would watch the film and give notes, he was able to bring that experience to life.

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At the press conference during my trip to Pixar, Mann took questions from the journalists in attendance. The Riley’s Crew aspect of the creative process made me extremely happy, as the first Inside Out movie meant a lot to me, and I wanted the teenage girl experience to be represented in a way that made sense for the movies’ lead, Riley.

At the press conference, both director Kelsey Mann and Producer Mark Neilsen talked about making sure Riley’s growth as a teenager was represented, and while both Inside Out and Inside Out 2 are universal stories about understanding our emotions, they are very much tied to Riley being a young girl. So, I asked them about that responsibility and making sure this movie is both universal and for young women who don’t often get stories about growing up from their perspective.

“I mean, it’s amazing to be able to tell this story,” Mann said. “You know, a big reason why I’m making this movie is I want to make it for everyone but I’m also making it for my little girl. I’m making it for my daughter. I wish I had a movie like this when I was a teenager and that’s the power of the first film. When somebody asked ‘Are you intimidated by following the footsteps?’ I’m more excited than anything because the first film, when I went home to think about whether I should say yes to this opportunity or not, I looked at the first movie and I’m like, ‘Man, it’s everything I love about movies.”

Mann went on to praise the first Inside Out and how that gives him hope for the reception of Inside Out 2. “It was really fun. It was really imaginative and it made a meaningful impact on the world. That’s why I’m here. I want to do that,” he said, “and if I can’t make some teenager’s life just that much better like the first film did for many people, then why am I here? So I went back and said a hundred percent yes so I am just really excited to be able to put this out into the world.”

Women are integral to telling Riley’s story

Neilsen went on to talk about a lot of the women of Pixar and how, without them, this movie wouldn’t exist. “We also were blessed to have some amazing women in key creative roles on this show,” he said.  “Meg LeFauve is back as one of our writers. She was a writer on the original film. Our editor, Maurissa [Horwitz], you might’ve met her going through some sessions, just a powerhouse. Over half of our story team were female story artists on this show, I think, which was a first for Pixar, and even our composer—Andrea Datzman is the composer of the score on this film, and this is the first feature film at Pixar that’s ever had a female composer, and she’s just brought so much to this film.”

Mann went on to say that putting women in charge of aspects of Inside Out 2 was the plan. “It’s intentional. I really want to make sure that when we look around who’s in the room and who’s contributing, that they can talk from a place that’s true to what Riley is going through.”

Inside Out 2 hits theaters on June 14, and after watching the first 30-ish minutes, I know it is going to wreck me again.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.