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THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100

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    27. Vanessa Morrison
    Vanessa Morrison Murchison
    President, Fox Animation

    The modest Murchison isn't one to boast about her successes, but she scored a major coup this year with Rio. The 3D toon -- from Murchison's Fox Animation Studios and partner Blue Sky Studios -- earned $484.6 million worldwide, making it Fox's top-grossing film of 2011.

    In 2007, Murchison became the first woman to head a studio animation division and right away embraced Carlos Saldanha's story about a Macaw named Blu who travels to Rio de Janeiro, Saldanha's hometown. "Rio is one of those movies where everybody involved put their heart and soul into it because it came from this very passionate, personal place," she says.

    PHOTOS: THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100

    The UC Berkeley grad, 42, got her start in the industry as a paid intern and reader in Columbia Pictures' story department but considers her stint at Oakland's Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, which archived and acknowledged the contributions of African-American filmmakers, as her introduction to the business. "I got to meet the Nicholas Brothers and Cab Callaway," Morrison recalls proudly.

    She joined Fox as a paid intern in 1994 and never left, segueing to creative executive positions before replacing former Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri.

    Work on next summer's fourth installment of the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift ("it's even more epic in scope," she says) and Chris Wedge's Leafmen, due out in 2013, has her flying cross-country to Blue Sky's Greenwich, Conn., headquarters.

    Free time is spent with her husband, John Murchison, and their young son, whom she is teaching to play the violin. "He plays a little soccer but isn't in a league yet," she says, "so we do a lot of music-oriented stuff."

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