Jennifer Lee
Lee in 2015
Jennifer Michelle Rebecchi

(1971-10-22) October 22, 1971 (age 52)
EducationUniversity of New Hampshire (BA)
Columbia University (MFA)
  • Screenwriter
  • director
  • producer
Years active2004–present
EmployerWalt Disney Animation Studios (2011–present)
Robert Joseph Monn
(m. 1999, divorced)
(m. 2021)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Feature
Frozen (2013)

Jennifer Michelle Lee (née Rebecchi; October 22, 1971)[1] is an American filmmaker. She is the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.[2] She is best known as the writer and one of the directors of Frozen (2013) and its sequel Frozen II (2019), the former of which earned her an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Lee is the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film[3] and the first female director of a feature film that earned more than $1 billion in gross box office revenue.[4] She has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award and an Annie Award, and has been nominated for one more BAFTA Award and two more Annie Awards.[5]

Early life

Jennifer Michelle Rebecchi was born on October 22, 1971[3][6] to Linda Lee and Saverio Rebecchi, who were living in Barrington, Rhode Island at the time.[7] After their divorce, Lee and her older sister Amy, who later became an English teacher, lived with their mother in East Providence, Rhode Island.[6][7] Both Lee and her older sister graduated from East Providence High School and the University of New Hampshire.[7] Lee earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1992[8][9] and relocated to New York City, where she worked as a graphic artist in publishing; she designed audiobooks for Random House.[6][7] As an adult, she began using her mother's maiden name, Lee, in a professional capacity[7] and in January 1995, legally changed her last name from Rebecchi to Lee.[1]


Lee graduated from Columbia University School of the Arts' Film Program with an MFA in film in 2005.[10] While at Columbia, she won several awards for excellence in screenwriting and gave birth to her daughter.[6][10]

Her script for The Round Up was a quarter-finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition in 2009 and was subsequently optioned by Appian Way Productions.[10]

In March 2011, Phil Johnston, a former classmate at Columbia, called Lee to ask her to join him at Disney Animation in Burbank to help him write Wreck-It Ralph.[6] What was supposed to be a temporary eight-week writing gig eventually turned into a much longer commitment.[6] First, she was asked to stay on until Ralph was finished.[6] She then became involved with Frozen, initially as screenwriter and later as director alongside Chris Buck.[6] When Lee was brought on board, she helped transition the film from an action-adventure to "more musical, with more comedy."[11] She worked closely with the songwriters (Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) in the writing of the script.[11] Frozen gave her the opportunity to celebrate "wild and wonderful" girls like her childhood self, and her daughter, Agatha.[11] It was also the highest-earning film with a female director in terms of domestic earnings, until surpassed by Warner Bros.' Wonder Woman.[12]

On May 17, 2014, Lee delivered the commencement address to the class of 2014 at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire.[13][14][15] She revealed that she had struggled with self-doubt while growing up,[16]: 2:00  and then in April of her junior year of college, her boyfriend was killed in a boating accident, after which she felt "no doubt, only grief ... and for a brief moment ... [knew] better than to waste a second doubting."[16]: 6:18  Years later, that memory would help her overcome her initial doubt over whether she was good enough to apply to Columbia.[16]: 7:10  At Columbia, Johnston recognized she was talented but insecure, and one day asked her to "promise ... that you'll leave it out of your work, just know that you're good enough and move on."[15] She concluded: "If I learned one thing it is that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces. It makes you defensive instead of open, reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it ... Please know, from here on out, you are enough and dare I say, more than enough."[15] UNH then awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.[17]

In September 2014, it was announced that Lee and Buck would co-direct a short film featuring the Frozen characters called Frozen Fever. It was released in March 2015.[18] Lee was one of several Disney writers and directors who received credit for "Creative Leadership" on the 2014 film Big Hero 6 and the 2016 film Moana, and received screen credit as one of the writers who developed the story for the 2016 film Zootopia.[19][20][21]

In August 2014, Variety reported that Lee's next project after Frozen would be an adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 novel A Wrinkle in Time.[22][23] After the news broke, Lee tweeted: "Been in love with the book for over 30 years. Writing this script means the world to me."[24] Catherine Hand, the executive producer of the 2003 television film version, and Jim Whitaker produced for Disney,[22] and Ava DuVernay directed the film, based on Lee's script. A Wrinkle in Time was released in March 2018.[25][26]

On March 12, 2015, Disney announced that Lee and Buck would co-direct a full length sequel to Frozen.[27]

In June 2018, Lee was named the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, following John Lasseter's departure from Disney.[2] Lee is also set to write and produce a film titled The Way Between, for Tooley Entertainment, with Kyra Sedgwick set to direct.[28]

In September 2022, Lee was announced to write the screenplay for Disney's animated film Wish, released in November 2023.[29]

Personal life

Lee married Robert Joseph Monn[30] on May 30, 1999, at the Rhode Island Country Club[31] (they later divorced).[7] They have a daughter, Agatha Lee Monn[32] (born in 2003),[3][6] who voices pre-teen Anna for the middle verse of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" in Frozen.[30]

In November 2019, Lee confirmed that she was in a relationship with actor Alfred Molina.[33] They were married in August 2021,[34] and live in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, California with Lee’s daughter.



Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Executive
Other Notes
2012 Wreck-It Ralph No Screenplay No No
2013 Frozen Yes Yes No Yes Voice of Queen Iduna / Additional Voices
2014 Big Hero 6 No No No Yes Creative Leadership
2016 Zootopia No Story No Yes
Moana No No No Yes
2018 A Wrinkle in Time No Screenplay No No
Ralph Breaks the Internet No No Yes Yes Studio and Creative Leadership
2019 Frozen II Yes Yes No Yes
2021 Raya and the Last Dragon No No Yes Yes
Encanto No No Yes Yes
2022 Strange World No No Yes Yes
2023 Wish No Yes Yes Yes
2024 Moana 2 No No Yes Yes
2025 Zootopia 2 No No Yes Yes

Shorts and series

Year Title Director Writer Executive
2004 A Thousand Words Assistant No Producer
2015 Frozen Fever Yes Story No
2020 At Home with Olaf No No Yes YouTube short films[35]
Once Upon a Snowman No No Yes Disney+ Original short film[36]
2021 Us Again No No Yes [37]
How to Stay at Home No No Yes Disney+ Original short films[38]
Olaf Presents No No Yes
Far from the Tree No No Yes [39]
2022 Baymax! No No Yes Disney+ Original short films[40]
Zootopia+ No No Yes
2023 Once Upon a Studio No No Yes
2024 Iwájú No No Yes Disney+ Original long-form limited series[41]
TBA Tiana No No Yes

Other credits

Year Title Credit
2014 The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic Herself
2016 Imagining Zootopia[42] Herself
2017 Quality Problems Very Special Thanks
Olaf's Frozen Adventure Special Thanks
2020 Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II Herself; Special Thanks
2021 How to Stay at Home Special Thanks


Year Award Category Work Result Reference
2013 EDA Award Best Animated Feature Film Frozen Nominated [5]
[better source needed]
EDA Female Focus Award Best Woman Director Nominated
Best Woman Screenwriter Nominated
AFCA Award Best Animated Film Won
Dubai International Film Festival People's Choice Award Won
SLFCA Award Best Animated Film Won
Annie Awards Writing in an Animated Feature Production Wreck-It Ralph Won
2014 Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Film of the Year Frozen Won
BAFTA Film Award Best Animated Film Won
BAFTA Children's Award BAFTA Kids Vote - Feature Film Won
Best Feature Film Nominated
Saturn Award Best Writing Nominated
Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement in Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Achievement in Writing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
Gold Derby Award Animated Feature Won
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Nominated
International Online Cinema Awards (INOCA) Best Animated Feature Won
Italian Online Movie Awards (IOMA) Best Animated Feature Film (Miglior film d'animazione) Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Award Best Animated Feature Won
VES Award Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Won
2015 Tokyo Anime Award Grand Prize, Feature Film Won
2017 Gold Derby Award Original Screenplay Zootopia Nominated
2019 Seattle Film Critics Award Best Animated Feature Frozen II Nominated
2020 BAFTA Film Award Best Animated Featured Film Nominated
Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
Gold Derby Award Animated Feature Nominated
LEJA Award Best Animated Feature Nominated
OFTA Film Award Best Animated Picture Nominated


  1. ^ a b Perry, Valerie A. (January 21, 1995). "Legal Notices (Probate Court of the City of East Providence)". Providence Journal. The Providence Journal Company. p. B-14. This article lists various matters noticed for hearing before the probate court, of which the relevant one is as follows: "REBECCHI, JENNIFER MICHELLE, estate - Change of name to Jennifer Michelle Lee; for hearing January 24, 1995." Available via ProQuest NewsStand.
  2. ^ a b Brent Land (June 19, 2018). "Jennifer Lee, Pete Docter to Run Disney Animation, Pixar". Variety. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Kit, Borys (December 18, 2013). "'Frozen' Director Wants to Break a Sci-Fi Blockbuster Barrier". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 26, 2022. Lee, 42, is the first woman in the studio's history to act as a director on one of its animated features (she co-directed with Chris Buck).
  4. ^ Flores, Terry (June 10, 2014). "'Frozen's' Jennifer Lee Melts Glass Ceilings". Variety. Variety Media LLC. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Jennifer Lee - Awards". IMDb. February 12, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stewart, Jill (May 15, 2013). "Jennifer Lee: Disney's New Animation Queen". LA Weekly. Retrieved November 8, 2019. Raised in East Providence, R.I., Lee, 41, was a flute-playing band nerd who "became a cheerleader — a nerd cheerleader."
  7. ^ a b c d e f Flynn, Sean (February 17, 2014). "Is it her time to shine?". The Newport Daily News. Archived from the original on July 31, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  8. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (November 29, 2012). "Disney Names Jennifer Lee Director Of 'Frozen'". Animation World Network. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  9. ^ Mackin, Jean (January 14, 2014). "'Frozen' writer, director says UNH helped pave her way". WMUR New Hampshire 9. Manchester Hearst Properties Inc. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Jennifer Lee | Speaking Fee, Booking Agent, & Contact Info". CAA Speakers. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
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  12. ^ ""Wonder Woman" Is Now the Top Female-Helmed Film at the Domestic Box Office". Women and Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 17, 2022. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
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  14. ^ Lawrence, Mike (May 17, 2014). "'Frozen' director warms up to speaking at UNH commencement". New Hampshire Union-Leader. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Sanborn, Aaron (May 17, 2014). "Oscar-winning director of 'Frozen' inspires UNH grads". Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c Lee, Jennifer (May 17, 2014). "Jennifer Lee '92 UNH Commencement Speech 2014" (Video). University of New Hampshire. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  17. ^ Anonymous (May 17, 2014). "Honorary degrees conferred at UNH". New Hampshire Union-Leader. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
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  19. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (March 4, 2016). "Did a Disney animated film really say that? If it's 'Zootopia,' prepare to be shocked". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  20. ^ "Big Hero 6 (2014) Production Credits". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2014. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  21. ^ "Moana screen credits". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "'Frozen' Director Jennifer Lee to Adapt 'A Wrinkle in Time' for Disney". Variety. August 6, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  23. ^ Jacobs, M. (August 5, 2014). "'Frozen' Scribe Jennifer Lee Signs On To Write Big-Screen Adaptation Of 'A Wrinkle In Time'". HuffPost. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  24. ^ Rivera, Zayda (August 5, 2014). "'Frozen' director Jennifer Lee set to adapt 'A Wrinkle in Time' for Disney". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  25. ^ McNary, Dave (February 23, 2016). "Ava DuVernay to Direct 'A Wrinkle in Time' Movie Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 14, 2016). "Ava DuVernay's 'A Wrinkle In Time' To Hit Theaters In Spring 2018". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  27. ^ Graser, Marc (March 12, 2015). "Disney Announces 'Frozen 2'". Variety. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  28. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 13, 2018). "Kyra Sedgwick To Direct Jennifer Lee Script 'The Way Between' For Tooley Entertainment". Deadline Hollywood.
  29. ^ Hall, Maragret (September 10, 2022). "Ariana DeBose to Star in New Disney Film Wish". Playbill. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  30. ^ a b Wilson Hunt, Stacey (December 12, 2014). "'Frozen' Director Apologizes to Parents for "Let It Go"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  31. ^ Anonymous (June 25, 1999). "Weddings". Providence Journal. A.H. Belo Corporation. p. J-10. Available via ProQuest NewsStand.
  32. ^ Chai, Barbara (November 27, 2013). "Listen to Songs From Disney's 'Frozen' and Hear How They Were Written". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  33. ^ Dowd, Maureen (November 7, 2019). "Jennifer Lee, Queen of the 'Frozen' Franchise". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  34. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (August 10, 2021). "Alfred Molina, Jennifer Lee wed in garden ceremony officiated by 'Frozen' matchmaker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  35. ^ ""I Am With You" - At Home With Olaf". YouTube. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  36. ^ Petski, Denise (September 9, 2020). "'Frozen' To Explore Origins Of Olaf In Disney+ Animated Short". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  37. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (February 15, 2021). "Disney To Release Theatrical Animated Short 'Us Again' Alongside 'Raya And The Last Dragon'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  38. ^ Johnson, Zach (July 26, 2021). "Inside Goofy's Hilarious and Relatable How to Stay at Home Shorts from Walt Disney Animation Studios". D23. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  39. ^ Sarto, Dan (May 21, 2021). "World Premiere of Disney's 'Far From the Tree' Set for Annecy". Animation World Network. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  40. ^ Bonomolo, Cameron (May 20, 2022). "Disney+ Sets Release Date for Big Hero 6 Sequel Series Baymax!". Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  41. ^ Porter, Rick (December 10, 2020). "'Moana,' 'Tiana' Animated Series Set at Disney+". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  42. ^ Anderton, Ethan (April 5, 2016). "'Imagining Zootopia': Watch a 45-Minute Documentary Chronicling the Making of Disney's Animated Hit". /Film. Retrieved June 26, 2022.