Gabby’s Dollhouse Interview with Traci Paige Johnson and Jennifer Twomey

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Gabby’s Dollhouse is a new animated series from DreamWorks that combines cats, unboxing, and DIY together in a hybrid show (live-action and animation) now playing on Netflix. 

To get a taste of the activities you’ll find on on the show, download these great crafts and recipes. 

Related: Gabby’s Dollhouse Printables

We sat down with the Executive Producers Traci Paige Johnson and Jennifer Twomey to talk about this fun new show. Check out the full interview below.

Here is the full 30 minute interview.

https://youtu.be/ElD6CPJUQNo

The transcript has been edited to highlight our favorite questions. 

Meghan Cooper: In the world of animation, creators wear many different hats, including writer, researcher, and animator. So what are some tips that you have for people that it’s their dream to kind of break into the children’s writing space, and also the animation world?

Jennifer Twomey: Well, I would say we are always on the hunt for great writers. Tracy and I, her area of expertise is more the animation and visual, whereas I’m more focused on the writing. We really collaborate on everything. She’s my favorite writing partner and I weigh in on all the designs, but I think for me, speaking of writers, we are always looking for writers. I know that one of the ways of breaking in is, if there’s a show that you love, writing a spec script and coming up with ideas is one way to start practicing and really finding your voice as a writer. 

Traci Paige Johnson:  Yeah. And then on the animation design side, there are so many. What’s so wonderful about this digital age is all the programming that you can do on your own of stop motion, animation, or storyboarding, and just kind of learning those tools and the practices of telling stories or taking your favorite animated shows and breaking them down visually and storytelling in the arc and what happens in each scene. But internships are always great. And Dreamworks, I know is always looking for internships and Nickelodeon and it was just kind of getting in there and just start doing it yourself, not being afraid of making mistakes, have that growth mindset of just jumping in and learning from whatever you’re doing.

Jennifer Twomey:  And one of the things that we’re so excited about is the digital aspect. You know, the idea of with Gabby’s Dollhouse, that this is a show she has created. So we start live-action in her bedroom. And the conceit is that she films each of these episodes on her phone. And I feel like, in this day and age kids, there’s so much freedom for kids to create their own stories and express themselves. And I think, keeping a journal, it just feels like it’s such a great time for kids. And that’s why we were focused on growth mindset. Don’t wait for something to be perfect, to put it out there. Don’t be afraid of putting something out there and making a mistake because that’s how you learn. And that’s one of the big messages that we hope we’re modeling for kids, future writers, and animators.

Blogger: If there was a mission statement for Gabby’s Dollhouse, what would it be?

Jennifer Twomey:  Failing fantastically. The growth mindset. Not being afraid to make mistakes. That mistakes are part of the learning process,

Traci Paige Johnson:  Celebrate mistakes and have fun doing it. Yeah. Being creative and turning lemons into lemonade and with your creativity and humor, and certainly fun with your friends.

Blogger: Do you write the ideas or get somebody to help you with the creation of the projects or it’s the other way around? How’d you come up with the DIYs?

Crafts and DIYs from Gabby's Dollhouse

Traci Paige Johnson: We harness the love, the kids’ love of YouTube and the unboxing and the craft DIY and the cooking DIY, as you know, we, we organically right into the story. And then as moms, ourselves, we have so much experience of doing crafts and, and cooking. We kind of come up with it ourselves and experiment and play it out and in our own home with our research of kids. So it’s actually all us baby.

Blogger: With social distancing and children’s educational programming is more important than ever. Could you share a little bit about the inspiration for the show and some of the lessons that are included?

Jennifer Twomey:  Well, I think that, um, you know, the growth mindset is the overarching curriculum of the show, and I think modeling resilience and not being able to, being afraid to make a mistake really could not be more important in these times where, you know, kids are facing a lot of challenges and schooling remotely. So we feel like the message of Gabby, the resilience, the grit, the determination to keep going, keep trying is more important now than ever. Um,

Traci Paige Johnson:  We also have couched in, you know, the kindergarten readiness of course, with the color shapes, but also the socio-emotional of flexible thinking and empathy and just having a sense of humor in it. Cause honestly, I like the thing as a, a mom through this, Jen and I are always laughing and joking. It’s like, that’s the main thing that gets us through is just finding the humor and everything. And, you know, being able to laugh at yourself and laugh at the situation and just play with it and have the, you know, making the best of it. Lemons that eliminate

Gabby from Gabby's Dollhouse playing with her cat

Jennifer Twomey:  One thing, Gabby, we were very conscious of Gabby never says the word perfect because nothing is ever perfect. And it’s really about taking what you have and making the best of it and finding the humor in it. We definitely try to model that in every single episode.

Meghan Cooper: Blue’s Clues was originally going to be a cat. So are you excited to explore so many cats?

Traci Paige Johnson: Oh a Super Fan! Cats was the kind of the go-to and then we ended up steering with the dog because another show that we were up against paddock cat. So we want it to be different from that. So the cats finally get their day.

Jennifer Twomey: We’re excited to celebrate all things cat that’s right? Yeah. It’s been, it’s been amazing. We, um, you know, when we first came up with the idea, um, we, we originally had different, different animals. And then, um, we just, we just loved cats so much and everybody loves cats. And we were seeing all these crazy YouTube videos with the cats and, um, we decided we’re going all cat. And we’re so glad we did because it’s not only do the kids love cats and everybody loves cats, but it also created such a unique design element for the show and a real overarching look for the show,

Traci Paige Johnson:  Everything from the unboxing to having little cat ears, to her magic ears, shrinking her down, it just kind of was this complete umbrella. That just felt so right.

Jennifer Twomey:  And we call it cat defying. So we’re always cat fighting things. You know, if we have, uh, the toaster it’s, it’s got cat ears, even the toast, the bread has little cat ears and even the toilet and the bathroom. So we just, it’s so much fun and we just have such a great time with it.

Traci Paige Johnson: Yeah. I think kids, uh, the more the look, the more they’ll see that there’s like little Easter egg, hidden cats everywhere and making it Gabby’s and the Gabby cats and that they’re Gabby cat too.

Gabby’s Dollhouse is streaming now on Netflix.

Keep Reading: INTERVIEW: Gabby’s Dollhouse Laila Lockhart Kraner

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for making this Gabby dollhouse come true my children love this show and we bought all most all your toys just one thing I have to get to go with your dollhouse is the purple car I can’t find it anywhere and I hope Gabby dolls house stay in for a long ng time thank you

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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