Oprah: And that leaves us feeling less connected with our surroundings, with one another, and with ourselves.

Julie: Completely.

Oprah: Are there things parents can do to stimulate the creative process in their children?

Julie: Yes. When I was growing up, there were a lot more arts in the public schools. Politically, this country has screwed up on that. The National Endowment for the Arts is very important because learning is about much more than science and math. Doing theater, music, and art in school really helps children's minds grow because they're using different parts of their brains. Parents who care should insist on that.

Oprah: Do you ever wish you had children?

Julie: At one time I wanted that. But I didn't start trying until late, and then it didn't happen. To be honest with you, I am delighted. I know that's not what a lot of people want to hear, but—

Oprah: You couldn't have the life you have now if you had children.

Julie: I could not.

Oprah: That's true for me, too. And yet some would still say that we're missing something.

Julie: I know I'm missing something, but those who have children are missing what I get to do. And frankly, I'm probably missing more of what I don't want than what I do. Some may call me selfish or narcissistic, but I don't want to spend my time going to PTA meetings. The only way I could have children and do the work I do is to have a househusband—and I'm not attracted to a househusband. I'd rather affect children with the work I do.

Oprah: Were you afraid to direct The Lion King?

Julie: I wasn't afraid, but I was cautious. Everyone was asking me, "Why are you doing Disney? You do folklore and mythology." My aesthetic is not a Disney aesthetic at all, but when I met with the wonderful producers at Disney, they weren't looking for me to do their aesthetic. I'd already spent 20 years in the theater, so if they were going to hire me, they'd be hiring me for what I have to offer. Everyone learned a transforming lesson from The Lion King: You don't have to patronize your audience, and you can mix art and commerce in a profound way. You can simultaneously play to the sophisticated, 60-year-old theatergoers and to 4-year-olds. I wanted The Lion King to have elegance, to not be cute. I decided to play to myself, meaning that when I created something, I had to like it. If I don't like something, why should I expect anybody else to? I had to take what had been a successful animated film, put it on the stage, and make it equally good. So I had to do what only theater can—to create a visceral experience that surrounds you.


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