the lion guard animator
Disney Animator José Zelaya. Disney Junior/Rick Rowell

Having immigrated to the U.S. when he was only a child, José Zelaya, a Salvadorean-American, had big dreams of success of pursuing his passion for drawing; he even confidently told his mom when he was a child, that one day he was going to work for Mickey Mouse and it was years later that he landed his dream job as a character designer for Disney. "Pursue a dream that makes you happy for the rest of your life,” Zelaya’s mom said to him, when the artist never imagine that he will make a career as a cartoon animator.

Over the years, Jose has worked on series such as “Recess,” “Lloyd in Space,” “Lilo & Stitch: The Series,” “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” “Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero” and most recently Disney’s “The Lion Guard,” from one of the most beloved stories of all times."It’s a spin off from "The Lion King" which is one my favorite cartoons ever,” the artist said,"It takes place in Africa where we adapt a lot of words from Swahili and we use music in reference to that, it represents diversity by telling a positive story."

The epic storytelling of Disney's "The Lion King" continues with "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar," a primetime television movie event starring Rob Lowe, Gabrielle Union and James Earl Jones, reprising his iconic role as Mufasa. Premiering this November on Disney Channel, the movie follows Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, as he assumes the role of leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. "The Lion Guard" television series will premiere in early 2016 on Disney Channels and Disney Junior channels around the globe. (Disney Junior)

The expert revealed that a lot of his creations are based on psychology and real life relationships that he encounters, "I always pay attention to the colors of someones personality,” Zelaya said, "when you design for shows such as “ The Lion Guard" you want to try to make different personalities so that the audience will relate to these characters.”

Latin Times asked the illustrator for an essential advice for future Latino animators; José shared a strong message: "Create more stories about culture, legends, about America and blessed opportunities, you need to follow your passion because passion will fuel your creativity,” adding that living life to the fullest and taking risks in this exciting industry is key, because you can be a child forever by living the amazing "Peter Pan" life.

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