As a young boy, Scott Stewart ’93 enjoyed writing stories and reading fiction and comic books, especially Winnie the Pooh and Calvin & Hobbes. Although he “never expected these interests would lead to a viable career option,” this couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, he and his wife, Julie, own and operate Team Stewart, a boutique entertainment company based in Vancouver, Canada. After producing the animation for Sesame Workshop’s Emmy Award winning series Abby’s Flying Fairy School, Scott and Julie Stewart co-created the popular children’s TV show Kate & Mim-Mim, which currently airs on Disney Junior as well as many international markets.
Stewart’s creativity was nurtured at Morristown-Beard School in a variety of studio art and English classes.
“My older brother Rich (Class of 1991) came here first and loved it,” he said. “I discovered that the faculty at MBS were amazing; they were friendly and accessible and helped me develop my voice. They were interested in what I had to say.”
Stewart credits Upper School art teacher Laurie Hartman with having most profound impact on him. “She was such a positive influence. I had her for Peer Group, AP Art, and Photography,” he said. “I almost enrolled in art school because of her.”
Instead, Stewart decided to “cast a wider net,” so he pursued liberal arts at the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in creative writing and began to explore 3D animation as well. To get his foot in the door, he worked at a post-production facility in New York City as an unpaid intern. By his mid-20s, he was a successful 3D artist and freelance consultant who “had more work that he knew what to do with.”
After marrying Julie and starting a family, Stewart founded his own special effects and animation company, SpeakeasyFX, in 2004. Clients included American Express and ESPN before landing a deal to produce Sesame Workshop’s Abby’s Flying Fairy School. In 2010, Stewart and his crew won an Emmy for Character Design and two KidScreen Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Animation for their work on the show.
A few years later, he and Julie decided to launch their own TV show from scratch. “Our kids were young and we were consuming so much children’s content that we started kicking around the idea of doing a kids TV show ourselves,” said Stewart.
The result was Kate & Mim-Mim, an animated series focusing on the friendship and adventures of a 5-year old girl named Kate and her favorite toy, a plush bunny named Mim-Mim, who becomes a larger than life playmate whenever Kate’s curiosity stirs her imagination. The series premiered in 2014 on Family Jr. (Canada) and CBeebies (United Kingdom) before being picked up by Disney Junior in the United States.
“With Kate, we write the scripts together: Julie does story edits, I direct, and we oversee every part of the production together,” he said. “Our daughter Kate knows that the story is loosely based on her. She’s thrilled, but she’s also very modest about it.”
The work on the show is a true family collaboration. “It’s really awesome that the kids (Kate, 8, along with Matthew, 11, and William, 12) are involved every step of the way. They have really good notes on sound effects; they give us ideas for gags and storylines. We often sit around as a family and analyze content,” said Stewart. “When we’re looking for errors in continuity, it’s amazing how one 11-year old is better than a team of adults.”
Stewart is currently developing ideas for other TV shows and perhaps an animated feature film. In the meantime, Kate & Mim-Mim is finishing its second season, and Stewart recently produced a half-hour Oz special that will air around Thanksgiving. He said it’s important that Kate & Mim-Mim is not only entertaining, but conveys a positive message as well.
“Julie and I feel a very strong sense of social responsibility with our work; it’s important for us to create a strong female role model,” he said. “With Kate, we’ve tried to create a strong female protagonist who isn’t ‘bossy’—she’s an empathetic leader. To have our show reach children in Canada, the U.S., Europe, and now even in the Middle East, it’s inspiring and humbling.”