Why Passion, Education, And Creativity Matters When Producing Shows For Kids: Interview With Chris Nee #Vampirina

During the Disney sponsored press trip #ThorRagnarokEvent, we were whisked over to the Disney Studios to screen a new episode “The Ghoul Girls/Game Night” of the new Disney Junior show “Vampirina” and interview the Executive Producer, Chris Nee

Photo Credit: Allison Waken

Set in a Pennsylvania neighborhood, the series stars Lauren Graham, James Van Der Beek and Isabella Crovetti as the Hauntley family, friendly vampires who have recently moved from their home in Transylvania.

The stories follow Vampirina (aka “Vee”) as she faces the joys and trials of being the new kid in town including making friends and attending a new school in the human world. Along the way, Vee learns that it may be easier to blend in with her peers, but it’s more valuable to celebrate the qualities that make each individual unique.

I initially fell in love with the show because I identified with Vee.  Growing up, I moved a lot.  My first semester of 9th grade I lived with my grandmother and mom and attended El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, CA. During Christmas, break I went to visit my dad, and spent the second semester of 9th grade with him and my stepmom Jo and attended Central High School in Joliet, Il.  My 10th grade year was good, I attended one school, Lockport High and lived with LaSonia Lurry, a kind person that served as a mom.  I moved back to California and attend Canyon Springs High School for 11th and 12th grade, but lived in a few homes during that time.  With every move or new school, I felt an overwhelming need to fit in.  I wanted to create a familiar environment – by becoming part of a family, having friends, and being a normal teen.

My affection for the show grew after interviewing Chris Nee.  She entered the room with energy and passion as she shared her heart around the creation of Vampirina and Doc McStuffins

Photo Credit: Allison Waken

There were so many take-a-ways, it was hard to narrow them down.  As I intently listened to Chris, a few things stuck with me.


When asked about her secret to writing shows that both adults and children enjoy she shared the importance of bringing families together to watch shows.  She remembers how she felt as a kid, and that feeling drives her passion to produce shows for kids.

I think one of my secrets is often when you ask someone who works in kids TV exclusively, who are you writing for they’ll say, ‘the kids.’  And I know that’s the right answer, but I’m writing for myself.  I’m trying to make myself laugh.  I’m trying to work out my own stuff, remember my own childhood and those feelings and write the world that I hope we can live in.  I’m also a mom so, I certainly know what it’s like to want your kid to watch shows that the music is something you can stand ’cause you’re gonna watch it a lot.”


One of the most inspiring stories for me was about Chris’ teacher. I’m an advocate of education, primarily early education and I just loved her answer to the question about Vampirina’s teacher being inspired by her own teacher, Mr. Gore.

Yes, he’s named Mister Gore for a reason. Mister Gore was my sixth grade teacher and he was a Korean War vet and he actually had a plate in his head and he was the guy who always wore the three-piece suit.”

“Every grade from Kindergarten up through Fifth Grade you were terrified of the day that you found out you had Mister Gore.  You were like, ‘oh my god, no.’  But every single one of us would say he was one of the greatest teachers I ever had in my entire life from beginning to end.  He was an incredible teacher, even though this Mister Gore is sort of a different version.


As a mom, I am also looking for creative ways to inspire my son, Chance.  Vampirina and Doc McStuffins are obviously girl leads.  When asked what inspired her to make the characters (Vampirina and Doc McStuffins) her answer inspired me.

We have had a lot of boy lead characters.  When Doc came around, Doc could have been either, and I felt really strongly. I mean the story with Doc is that I created it for my son but I made her an African American girl.  And I really believed that was the representation that mattered.  And we didn’t need another boy lead character and I was still making it for my son and I believed that he would still care about the character.”

“And that I could do both things and that it was more important to shine a light and bring representation that we know is sorely lacking on the screen.  So, it’s definitely something that I feel passionately about and that will always be the case.

It takes a lot to adjust to a new environment.  It doesn’t matter if you are welcoming a new sibling in the house, going to a new grade with a new teacher, or moving to a new community or state…it’s tough.  Chris Nee created the perfect show Vampirina that celebrates passion, education and creativity. 

Photo Credit: Allison Waken

I think the most inspiring lesson learned from the show is while Vampirina and her vampire parents are nervous about fitting in after moving to Pennsylvania from Transylvania, they are not ashamed to be themselves. Chris said,

First of all, we really wanted to make sure that anyone who ever found out that she was a vampire, loved her anyway. That she was clearly okay with telling people who she was. This is not a family who’s ashamed of who they are in any way shape or form, they are worried that they’re going scare other characters and that there’s going be too much attention on them.’ 

Vampirina helps us teach our children the importance of being proud of who they are and celebrate the difference in others.  That is such a powerful and valuable lesson.  As an example, I went to visit 4 year-old Eliana to give her the Vampirina doll and watch an episode with her.  After I asked her what she learned from Vampirina, she said,

“I like that they all have different skin colors like in our family.” She continued to say “the monster ruler thing is about liking the “things” she brought from where she’s from.” 

Can you and your children stand to learn how to handle difficult situations? Have you seen Vampirina? Please share your thoughts about my interview with Chris Nee.

You can follow Vampirina on the Vampirina website, Facebook, Twitter (#Vampirina), and Instagram.



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