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'Kung Fu Panda' Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson To Helm First Live-Action Film: Report

by Stephany Bai /
Jennifer Yuh Nelon accepting an award at the 2016 V3Con hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of two “Kung Fu Panda” films, will make the shift into live-action movies when she takes on the screen adaptation of young adult trilogy “Darkest Minds,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film does not yet have a release date.

The best-selling series, penned by Alexandra Bracken, combines dystopian and superhero tropes. Set in a world where a virus has killed 98 percent of America’s children and teenagers, the series centers around the survivors, many of whom are forced into internment camps after developing superpowers that are perceived as threatening.

“Darkest Minds” will be Nelson’s first live-action film and only her third time at the helm of a movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Her directorial debut was in 2011, with “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which received an Oscar nomination for best animated film. With its release, Nelson became the first solo woman to direct a big-budget animated movie for a major studio, and the first solo woman to be nominated in her category at the Oscars, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nelson, who was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was four, started her career as a storyboard artist at DreamWorks Animation. After the success of “Kung Fu Panda 2,” Nelson also directed “Kung Fu Panda 3,” which was released in January this year.

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