Black excellence

Disney’s first African-American animator started working for the studio in his 20s. He’s still there at 81

YOUNG TALENT: Animator Floyd Norman in the 1950s

YOUNG TALENT: Animator Floyd Norman in the 1950s

IF YOU’RE a fan of classics like Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you’ve got animator Floyd Norman to thank.

In the 1950s Floyd started working for Disney, he was in his 20s and became the studio’s first African American animator, helping bring the company’s classics to life.

Now 81, Floyd still works for Disney.

When he turned 65, Floyd says Disney tried to force him to retire, but he wouldn’t have it. “I wanted to continue to work,” he says. “You see, creative people don’t hang it up. We don’t walk away, we don’t want to sit in a lawn chair, we don’t want to go out and play golf, we don’t want to travel the world. We want to continue to work.”

DISNEY LEGEND: Floyd Norman now

DISNEY LEGEND: Floyd Norman now

And so he did — given the opportunity to contribute as a freelancer, Norman found his way back into the studio.

Floyd’s love of art began long before his Disney job, as he reveals in documentary, An Animated Life, released last year. “Any empty surface was a blank canvas for me,” he says. His mother was constantly scrubbing scribbles off the walls. “I was drawing on everything,” he recalls.

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