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When You See New Pixar Movie 'Soul' Just Know That Bucks County Native, 30, Did The Animation

Montaque Ruffin
Montaque Ruffin Photo Credit: Pixar (Instagram photo)

MontaQue Ruffin grew up watching Disney Pixar's animated films.

But never did the 30-year-old Bucks County native think he'd help create one. 

Particularly, one that meant something to him.

Ruffin worked on the animation for Pixar's latest animated film, "Soul" -- the animation studio's first-ever movie to feature an African-American lead.

Everybody has a soul. Joe Gardner is about to find his. Watch the new trailer for Disney and Pixar’s Soul, in theaters June 19. About Soul: What is it that makes you...YOU? This Christmas only on Disney+, Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film “Soul” introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions. Directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter (“Inside Out,” “Up”), co-directed by Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami”) and produced by Academy Award nominee Dana Murray, p.g.a. (Pixar short “Lou”), Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” is streaming only on Disney+ beginning December 25. Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Hashtag: #PixarSoul


Ruffin secured an internship with Disney's Pixar during his senior year of college at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He later moved to Montreal, where he worked for the Moving Picture Company. 

Since returning to Pixar full-time in 2015, Ruffin has contributed to "Finding Dory," "Incredibles 2," "Toy Story 4" and more.

Working on "Soul" was different for Ruffin, who connected on a personal level.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, he noted that the African-American lead character was what stood out most to him.

Ruffin similarly related to the protagonist's journey to find purpose, along with the film's exploration of destiny, he said.

Ruffin -- of Oakland, CA, says his work on "Soul" was a collaborative effort of acting out scenes then transposing them.

Each day, he and other animators would watch their work on a big screen with the director, Ruffin told the Inquirer. After that, it was "refinement, refinement, refinement," he said.

Released Christmas Day on Disney+, "Soul" is a comedy-drama that follows middle school teacher Joe Gardner on a mission to reunite his soul and body after they are accidentally separated, right in time for his big break as a jazz musician.

Jamie, Foxx, Tina Fey and Questlove are just some of the voices in "Soul," which premiered at the London Film Festival last October.

Ruffin told the Inquirer he hopes that when people see "Soul," they leave with the understanding that each person is a gift with something to give, and we can all learn from one another.

In an interview earlier this year with Pixar, Ruffin said Black History teaches him the "unwavering power of love, and the strength that comes with it. 

"It’s important for me to always keep in mind and heart those who’ve come before me, and the sacrifices they have made. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those who believed in a brighter, better future."

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