When Domee Shi’s name was called last February at the Oscars, where she won for Best Animated Short, the roar of applause from north of the border must have been heard all the way in Hollywood.
The 29-year-old Torontonian made history with her win for directing Pixar’s Bao, a film that’s instantly recognizable as Canadian from its opening frame (and not just because you might glimpse the CN Tower in a shot or two). We’ve been big fans of Shi since Bao premiered ahead of the studio’s Incredibles sequel in 2018 and weren’t surprised when the film, about a Chinese-Canadian mother struggling with empty nest syndrome who gets a second chance at parenthood when a steamed bun comes to life, was recognized with an Academy Award. Read on to find out why our fandom has blossomed into full-on crush territory.
She’s a glass ceiling-breaker
Shi’s set records and made Canada proud by becoming the first woman to direct a short film for Pixar. After interning with the studio in her early twenties, Shi worked as a storyboard artist on movies like Inside Out and Toy Story 4 before landing in the director’s chair with Bao.
Shi is a girl crush all parents would approve of
Because obviously you don’t call your parents enough. With Bao, the writer-director has made a film that ensures you do and start thanking them for every homemade meal and load of laundry they ever toiled over on your behalf.
Your girl is about to blow up big time
Following in Brave co-director Brenda Chapman’s steps, Shi has been hired to helm her first feature, coming soon(ish) to a screen near you. The wait is killing us.
This is what Canada looks like
Shi is part of a growing group of modern Canadians using their work to put Canada’s diversity front and centre and making representation a priority, which is especially meaningful at a time when the country, and the world at large, can feel more divided by the day.
She name-drops us, like, all the time
Shi loves telling people about immigrating to Canada from China when she was two-years-old, sharing her spotlight with the country she called home for most of her life.
She’s stayed humble — with a little help
When she showed her art teacher father Bao, she got a reminder about where she came from: “I asked him what he thought [of the film] and he said, ‘I really liked it, but I also have notes for you.’ And I was like, ‘Ah, that’s my classic dad.'”