From a school project to a Disney dream

Melany Dominguez, Managing Editor

Ever since RHS alumni, Katie Reihman, class of 2004 was in first grade she dreamed of working for Disney. She would sketch and draw during her free time, as she grew older Reihman worked her way up to accomplishing her dream of working for Walt Disney Animation Studios.

“I have always been interested in art,” Reihman said.”I’ve always drawn. Growing up I was [set] on being an artist. My mom had this story that when I was in first grade I told her I wanted to be an animator at Disney.”

After graduating from RHS Reihman went on to art school in Florida and then to her first job as a lighting artist, where she worked on the movie Life of Pi.

“I graduated high school in 2004,” Reihman said. “I then got my bachelors of Fine Arts in computer animation at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota Florida. Then I went and worked at Rhythm & Hues studios in Los Angeles for about seven years.”

Reihman accomplished her dream and now works for Disney animations and has worked on movies like Big Hero 6, Frozen, Zootopia, and Wreck-It Ralph, and most recently Moana.

“I’ve been with  Disney for about six years,” Reihman said.

The help and support of the teachers she had here at RHS played a factor in her accomplishing her goals.

“I came to RHS and my art teachers were really supportive,” Reihman said. “Mr. Mike Rodall, my main art teacher, kind of helped me put together a portfolio to apply to art school. “

Another factor that contributed to Reihman’s success was her natural skills she had when it came to computers.

“Also ‍I really always was very good with computers. I really enjoy being on computers,” Reihman said. “I enjoyed learning things about them [computers].”

Reihman has won many different awards from an Oscar to an Academy Award.

“My first Academy Award was for Life of Pi,” Reihman said. “The award for Frozen that was really special to me. It was my first award at the at the Oscars and Disney had not won one [an Oscar] ever.”

Before working for Disney, Reihman worked for a small studio affects business.

“I worked at Rhythm & Hues which is a small casual studio effects,” Reihman said. “It is kind of messing CGI [computer-generated graphics] elements and I did imagery with live action filming like we call them plaits characters are explosions in real life. The best experience their  was my last movie that I worked on for them with which is Life of Pi.”

When Reihman came across a chance to finally fulfill her dream of working at Disney she took the risks needed.

“This job posted online and I applied,” Reihman said. “I had a job at a different company at the time and again we had just won an Oscar for Life of Pi so it was kind of a risk. Disney was where I wanted to be and I believe that the work that the studio was doing at the time was one of the worst.”

Although Reihman loves her job, sometimes she feels embarrassed by what she does for a living.

“My parents are doctors and I have friends who are teachers and I make cartoons for a living you know it’s embarrassing,” Reihman said.

Reihman believes that anyone can accomplish what they want to do if they work for it.

“I think people will say this is great you are like out of Richmond  and you are doing all this great stuff,” Reihman said. “And I’m kind of like, anybody can do this you know you just have to give to work. You just work really hard and if you can just pick one thing that you really love and just work really hard at it like you can be the best at it.”

In order to achieve what you dream of doing, Reihman also believes teamwork is a key part.

“You try to learn to work on a team, be a team player and just like pick something,” Reihman said. “Something that you really like and work really hard at it and that’s I think that’s like the best thing you can do.”