Episode #32: Facing Our Fear with Dreamworks Production Designer Kendal Cronkhite

Even as a self-proclaimed shy and introverted person, Dreamworks Animation's Kendal Cronkhite took big, bold chances that paid off in her personal growth and career. Today Lisa talks with her about leaving her comfort zone and what's to be gained from facing our fear. She shares her journey starting from her time as a hard-working Art Center student through her many impressive roles in the movie animation business, including her work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and as Production Designer on Madagascar and Trolls.


  • The importance of having support, community, and role model as a developing artist.
  • Kendal’s perseverance to get accepted to art school after a rejection and financial hurdles.
  • How surrounding yourself with people that believe in you can give you the energy and confidence to go for your dreams with reckless abandon.
  • Why we all could benefit from stretching outside of our comfort zone.
  • While on a 10-day trip to Africa doing research for Madagascar, Kendal fell in love with the sights and sounds of the natural landscape. The beauty of the natural light had such an impact on their crew that they tried to bring it in as much as possible to the actual movie.
  • Developing a movie and leading the production team requires Kendal to flex both her people managing skills and her ability to work independently and develop her own strong vision.
  • If you are an introvert, you can still show your power. There are so many ways for us to express ourselves and connect with people using our strengths and our purpose.
  • Virtual Reality becoming more mainstream has great uses for healing and rewiring our brains to help alleviate trauma. On the opposite end, at this time it is a pretty isolating experience and doesn’t replace the need for human connection in person.
  • Make a decision, and then take a stand confidently with that choice. You can always pivot and repave your path, but standing in your decision is instrumental in building confidence.
  • It took Kendal quite some time to attain a salary equal with the men in her field. She appreciates the women in her life to help her speak up for equality in design and the arts.

Mentioned in This Episode:


“It’s hard to replicate the beauty of nature, but we tried.”

“I have that fight and drive inside, it’s just that I am introverted and shy and it’s hard to reach down and grab that sometimes, but the work made it possible. I could fight for something that was a creative point of view that I felt very strongly about.”

“I could draw. That was my personal power.”

“There are so many ways (to express yourself), you don’t have to be loud and vocal all the time. You can do it with music, mathematical ability, there are so many ways to get in.”

“Believe you will break through, and now is the best time.”

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