If you stick around for the credits at the end of Pixar’s Toy Story 4, you’ll see the film’s story credited to Valerie LaPointe (BFA ’03). LaPointe, who graduated from VCUarts’ Communication Arts & Design program, has been a full-time story artist at Pixar animation studios since 2007. She’s helped sculpt the stories for Brave, Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur, and this year’s Toy Story 4 marks her first role as a story supervisor. In July, Variety highlighted LaPointe as one of “10 Animators to Watch” in 2019.
Coming up with the tale for the film was a collaborative effort. “It’s hard to place specific ownership on things because we threw [ideas] out there and others built off of it.”
She came up with the idea of the Gabby Gabby villain doll. “I really wanted to have a girl baby doll character in the ‘Toy Story’ universe [to have] more female toy characters in general. But also, why was there never a baby doll? It’s so signature of every little girl.” She says the doll was inspired by one that her mom had as an adult. Of all the toys around the house while LaPointe was growing up, that was the one that was off-limits.
LaPointe is in the middle of directing a short for Disney Plus, centered on “Toy Story’s” Bo Peep called “Lamp Life.”