Following a Feeling

PROVO, Utah – Jul 13, 2017 – Kristin Yee stood in a room filled with corporate executives, poised to present on a new project she’d been assigned: a Wii game starring a relatively new character named Hannah Montana.

Yee wore pajamas and pigtails while her coworker sported a pop star outfit. They hit play and began to rock out, modeling the concept of the game with the pajama-clad “player” mimicking the movements of an on-screen “Hannah” while holding a game controller.

The end of their routine was met with complete silence. We’re so fired, thought Yee.

But rather than being told to clean out her desk, Yee was flown to Glendale, California, to give a repeat performance to Disney CEO Bob Iger. The game went on to become a huge success.

Before creating a top-selling video game, Yee was a Sacramento-turned-Idaho girl who, at age twelve, moved from “highways and byways to farm fields.” She was always drawing and dreamt of someday working for Disney and the LDS Church.

Yee intended to take her artistic talents back to California, but after a short period of time at San Francisco’s Academy of Art College, she began to feel she was being called elsewhere.

That feeling took her first to Ricks College in Idaho, then to Florida for an internship with Disney, and eventually to BYU, where she refined her skills in the illustration program before graduating in 2005. Though traditional painting remained her true passion, she accepted a job as a 3D artist with Avalanche Software, a game company later bought by Disney.

Yee’s memorable Hannah Montana presentation led to management positions within the company. She wore various hats over the next thirteen years, including outsource manager, art development manager, and senior producer.

“I had never considered that as a pathway,” Yee says. “I was an artist. I was going to draw and paint until my dying day. [Then] I realized that I really enjoyed working with people and seeing it all come together.”

But then Yee once again got that feeling of being called away.

Though the decision to leave Disney was “heartbreaking,” Yee was able to seek balance after what had become a case of career burnout. She found herself painting again.

Yee accepted a job with the LDS Church as a resource manager for the Interactive and Animation team. She was listening to news about refugees when another strong feeling led her to apply to BYU’s EMPA program—a week before applications were due.

Yee is now several months into her new job and degree program. Though painting remains her passion—her portraits of Christ will soon be published with Altus Fine Art—she finds time to go backpacking, complete home repairs, travel, spend time with family, and try new restaurants.

“You just never know what’s next,” says Yee, who hopes to work internationally after the program. “I’d like to be in different cultures and places. If I can expand my skills through this program, perhaps I can be more valuable. Give me real people, real problems, and I’ll do my best to help.”

EMPA alum Kristin Yee

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: RIPM Institute