For decades, Pixar films have created stories that go beyond beautiful animation and tap into the human experience in a way no other studio can bring to the screen. On June 16, 2023, the Peter Sohn directed film Elemental came to theaters. With the story by Sohn and screenplay/story by John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh, Elemental follows Ember (Leah Lewis) and Wade (Mamoudou Athie), in a city where fire, water, land, and air-residents live together.

Actress Shila Ommi voices fan favorite Cinder Lumen, Ember’s mom and city matchmaker, in the film. In recent years, animation filmmakers have been advocating that the genre is real cinema and can evoke the same emotions as live action. Shila recently shared with Popternative host Petey Beats how much Elemental resonated with her on a personal level.

“I immediately connected to it because I myself am an immigrant and it’s a fun, funny animated story that will make you laugh out loud and it has stunning imagery, stunning imagery and the music just melted my heart [with] music by Thomas Newman. But because I’m an immigrant and this story features immigrants and immigration, I resonated with it right away and I definitely saw that there’s a very beautiful message about how when we come together with our differences, we become better people, we become more empathetic and more sophisticated and more evolved as human beings [and it’s] good for each other to be among people that are different in any way. I mean it’s not about culture, not about religion. It’s in every way and any way you can imagine.”

Shila added, “but that’s something that I’ve understood about Pixar cartoons for the past 15, 20 years that they always have this beautiful message and the characters have a point of view and they’re so real that you’re looking at a toy or an element and you see yourself or a cousin or a friend in that.”

Watch the full interview with Shila Ommi below.

Elemental is available now for digital purchase.


Amber Dover is a multimedia journalist with over a decade writing about pop culture. Cat mom with a deep love of horror, you can follow Amber at @Glambergirlblog on Instagram and Twitter.

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