Christy Hui, From Martial Arts to Nature Princesses

Four years ago, Christy Hui shook up the Saturday morning landscape with her trend-setting animated hit Xiaolin Showdown, which generated a huge fan base when aired on Kids’ WB! and Cartoon Network.This fall, Hui is ready once again to take the toon world by storm with her new multimedia creation, Hulala Girls. With a healthy licensing toyline and comprehensive website in place, the show centers on a group of muticultural ‘princesses of nature,’ who band together to help the environment and save the planet. We recently caught up with Hui to learn more about her new project:

Animag Online: What was the inspiration behind your new show/property?

Christy Hui: After Xiaolin Showdown, I wanted to work on a girl project to tell fun girls’ stories. As a kid, I fantasized about going to Hawaii so after graduating from high school, I traveled there and saw the traditional style hula dance for the first time. I was captivated by this ancient art form, which according to local legend possesses the mystical power of connecting one’s spirit with nature. In the show, I call this the “Hulala Mana” (Mana means power in the Hawaiian language.) The Hulala Mana became the magical spirit of the Hulala Girls. I feel this spirit resonate with young girls everywhere and I hope that Hulala Girls help magnify that spirit within.

What makes the show stand out in the marketplace today?

First of all, the Hulala Girls were born green. As Princesses of Nature, the Hulala Girls have magical powers derived from nature itself. Their spirit, love and passion for adventure and Mother Earth are key elements that make them a breath of fresh air. The Hulala Girls brand stands for something that young girls feel passionate about’the environment. Our heroines, Hana, Mele and Skye are fun-loving surfer girls with extraordinary powers of nature. Each girl has a distinct personality, but their passion for adventure and cozy friendships are what bond them together.

To tie this theme back to our world, we’re developing a social network on our island community site www.HulalaGirls.com, where real-life Hulala Girls come together to champion environmental issues that they care about.

True to the spirit of the brand, we contribute a portion of the proceeds from our online store to environmental causes such as Mermaids4Reefs, Surf4Earth and Dolls4Trees’a program created in association with American Forests. For every Hulala doll sold in 2007, a Hulala tree will be planted somewhere in the world.

What lessons did you learn from the Xiaolin Showdown experience which were helpful in the creation and promotion and sale process of Hulala Girls?

Xiaolin Showdown was an amazing experience and I brought so much of what I learned to Hulala Girls.

1. First and foremost, kids really love to ‘get involved’ and ‘interact’ with the creative process, thanks to their savvy Internet skills. For example, Xiaolin Showdown had over 6,000 video links on YouTube at one point. Our fans’ creative efforts and passion for the show was astounding to me.

2. Also young girls really identified with my female characters in Xiaolin Showdown and need more role models to look up to, particularly heroines who are fun, girly girls but can also kick serious butt if necessary. So Hana, Mele and Skye give them the opportunity and inspiration to become pro-active in the world around them. I guess you can call me a bit self-serving.

3. Kids really want to make a difference! They want their voices to be heard, and the Internet has given them a powerful microphone. We’ve seen proof of this on our site. Kids constantly tell us about their ‘green ideas’ and what’s important to them. The Internet is a powerful medium for ideas and this is an understatement.

What do you think about the TV animation business in 2007?

It’s highly competitive’probably the most competitive it’s ever been. As a professional working in children’s entertainment, my challenge is to create eco-friendly messages that appeal to kids in a fun and engaging way.

Who are some of the animation figures who have inspired you along the way? Which shows did you watch when you were a little girl?

Tom and Jerry and Popeye the Sailor‘I LOVED those shows! Although I can’t remember any specific titles, I watched a ton of Japanese anime as a kid growing up in HK. As you can see, those giant TV-set anime eyes were still blinking at me when I created the signature look for the Hulala Girls.

What is your take on the growth of CG animation on TV these days?

Oh, it’s like getting a new toy for Christmas. It’s very exciting to be part of history in the making. I’m sure it’ll be even more exciting when I incorporate CG animation in my new shows!

What kind of advice do you give newcomers who’d like to bring their animated vision to the market?

Well, I sold my house once to support this crazy vision so I am not really qualified to give advice’oh, why not? For starters, they probably want to avoid doing what I did. Also, I’d strongly recommend that they become Internet savvy and make sure they’re having fun with it along the way. So good luck!

For more info about Hui’s new show, visit www.hulalagirls.com