Jason Porath is a former effects animator at DreamWorks Animation who worked on films like Kung Fu Panda 2, The Croodsand How to Train Your Dragon 2. He and co-workers got to talking about women deemed unsuitable to become animated princesses. He started to research and draw, and Rejected Princesses was born. The page has been up for over a year now, and there is a book coming out.
Once upon a time, he was also a musician on Tesla Coils, but the Rejected Princesses have been keeping him too busy lately.
He recently took the time to talk with FangirlNation about the Rejected Princesses, his book, and sanity.
Jessica Greenlee: How did you start “Rejected Princesses”?
Jason Porath: Well, I used to work at DreamWorks Animation as an effects animator. During lunch one day, shortly after a clickbait article about the Frozen princesses being bad role models was circulating around the office, my co-workers and I had a discussion on who who would be the worst candidate for an animated princess movie (Lolita). Then I put it out to my Facebook page. Some of the choices were so inspired I just had to see them exist in some form or another, and, well, here we are.
JG: Why “Rejected”?
JP: The short answer is I wanted a pithy title. The longer answer is that the word “rejected” is kind of a dare to the reader – to ask themselves why, exactly, a person wouldn’t fit in as a character for kids’ movies. Why don’t we teach girls about their more controversial forebears? Sometimes the answer is pretty obvious. Sometimes it isn’t.
JG: How long has the project lasted?
JP: The website went live in June 2014, so a little over a year now. I have enough material to keep doing this for like ten years though. My master list is over 1200 people as of this writing, not counting more modern figures.
JG: Do you have a favorite princess?
JP: For hijinks and mayhem, it’s hard to beat Julie d’Aubigny. But for sheer heroism, nobody beats Noor Inayat Khan. I identified so strongly with her quirky character, I had to ask myself if I could have stepped up the same way she did. Her story broke my heart.
JG: You cover both fictional and non-fiction princesses. Why the mix?
JP: Because both can be incredibly influential. Pope Joan didn’t actually exist, but the Vatican instituted all sorts of reforms to guard against female popes regardless. Go back far enough and the line between history and myth begins to blur significantly.
JG: You do a lot of research for each princess. Are there some resources you turn to more than others?
JP: Google Books is a godsent. I almost always start there (sometimes after getting a list of books from the end of Wikipedia articles). Then JSTOR and the library. For more recent figures, I can sometimes check newspaper archives. For visual reference, I use Google Image Search and reference books (the works of Auguste Racinet and Osprey publishing usually).
JG: How do you decide if the princess has enough historical or mythological presence to include?
JP: I look for someone who would make a good movie. That means having three things: agency, conflict, and personality. Ideally their story has to have at least amount of progression, some ups and downs. I am very reticent to do “resume” entries – when all we know about the person comes off as a resume, and we have little to no sense of their character or struggles. People like Enheduanna, Murasaki Shikibu, and most pharaohs fall into this category. It would require a lot of invention and guesswork to really bring them to life, and I’m not yet comfortable with that.
JG: You have a book coming out. Tell us a little about it—when does it come out? Are there princesses people have not seen yet?
JP: There will be 100 entries, around 80 of which are unique to the book, and it’ll be out next year. I’ve gone to enormous lengths to try and make it as diverse as possible.
JG: Do you still have time to make music on Tesla coils?
JP: Sadly not. My friends are massively expanding our Tesla coil this year but I’m too busy to work on it. It’s going to be incredible, though. You’ll be able to stand in a Faraday cage and get hit by lightning without any harm coming to you. They even have a Kickstarter going: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/327342610/orage-interactive-lightning-experience-at-burning
JG: What else are you working on? Do you have time to work on anything else?
JP: Until the book manuscript is in, nothing else is getting my attention. After things calm down a bit, I’d like to look into doing videos, and maybe get back to some of the other projects I had kicking around before RP got going in earnest.
JG: How do you maintain your sanity?
JP: My what now?
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview!
Those of you interested in more Rejected Princesses should head over to http://www.rejectedprincesses.com. There is also a Rejected Princesses Facebook page which is a good place to go for conversation