The reviews are in and Disney and Pixar have done it again; Soul is a HIT! If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching the film on Disney+ just yet, Soul tells the story of a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) who longs for something more. Thanks to one of his previous students, that dream is about to come true. He gets the opportunity to audition for a jazz quintet headed up by legendary saxophonist, Dorthea Williams (Angela Bassett). Joe wins the spot of his dreams. But before he gets a chance to make his dreams come true he falls into an open manhole in the streets of New York City and wakes up in the afterlife.
However, before accepting his fate and taking the moving platform to the giant bug zapper in the sky, Joe escapes finding his way to the Great Before where he pretends to be a mentor to a snarky soul waiting for their earthly assignment, 22 (Tina Fey). 22 is your ultimate tween-ager. She has zero desire to go to Earth and has been manipulating the system for millennia. However, after Joe convinces her to help him get back to Earth all of that changes.
The “Spark” For The Cast Of Soul
All of the actresses have had their creative spark, lightbulb moment knowing exactly when they wanted to pursue the arts as their passion. Tina Fey (22) was studying drama at UVA when she wrote her first play. At that moment, after watching others bring her words to life she just knew “…this is it for me.”
Phylicia Rashad , who voices Libba Gardener, Joe’s mother, was 11 years old and involved in her elementary school’s drama department. After a show, she received a compliment from a woman, “There she is, there’s the little girl who spoke so beautifully. Isn’t she beautiful?” According to Rashad that was “manna from heaven” and from that moment on, she decided “When I grow up, I’ll be an actress. I’ll play in the light and be beautiful all the time.”
For Angela Bassett (Dorthea Willaims), her spark came when doing the talent portion of a pageant. She had fallen in love with the poetry of Langston Hughs and decided to perform a piece as her talent. For Angela, “…being able to use the poet laureate’s words to, express myself, to express drama, to have fun…and to see the reaction of the audience, to that…It was the beginning of something.”
Don’t Let That Passion/Spark Overtake Your Life Though
However, with every spark comes a warning. That warning is that it’s important to find your passion in life, but the film also brings up the detriment of an all-consuming passion that can take over your life. According to Tina Fey, this is also an important theme in Soul. There’s an important sequence in the film where 22 gets lost and is trapped by her own negative self-talk.
“…I think that’s really relatable…there have definitely been periods in my life where I’ve been so fully focused on work that I’ve-it’s almost been injurious…That it’s, um, taken it out of me…I thankfully have not felt as-as dark as-as 22 goes, in her lowest low in the movie.” Fey says.
However, the topic is important right now,“…especially [with Soul] coming out in 2020, it’s a year when we’re all taking stock of like, what it means to have had a good year. What it means to have been successful in your life. …it often now means taking uh, small joys where you can find them. And being present with the people that you love.”