Royal Conservatory Alumna Domee Shi Wins Academy Award


February 24, 2019—The Royal Conservatory of Music congratulates filmmaker and alumna Domee Shi, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Shi won the prestigious prize for her acclaimed film Bao. Produced by Pixar studios, Bao chronicles the story of a Chinese-Canadian woman feeling the ache of an empty nest who gets a second chance at motherhood when one of her dumplings comes to life.

Shi spent her childhood in Toronto studying flute through The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program, the Conservatory’s internationally acclaimed system of music study. She believes that an understanding of music, and especially how music works in the service of storytelling, is an important tool for an animation director. That insight proved to be valuable during the making of Bao, which is largely dialogue-free and in which the score conveys much of the meaning.

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“You need to have a good sense of rhythm,” Shi explains. “You need to know what emotion you want [a film’s]score to evoke and where you want it to go.”

Shi is the first alumnus of The Royal Conservatory to win an Academy Award since 2013, when composer Mychael Danna earned an Oscar for scoring the filmLife of Pi. Many alumni are among Academy Award nominees, including filmmakers Norman Jewison and Sarah Polley, as well as composer and violinist Owen Pallett.

“I’m definitely thankful of my music background,” Shi says. “It’s helped me to be a better animation director.”

The Royal Conservatory of Music is one of the largest and most respected music and arts education institutions in the world. Providing the definitive standard of excellence in music education through its curriculum, assessment, performances, and teacher education programs, the Conservatory has had a substantial impact on the lives of millions of people globally. In addition, the organization has helped to train a number of internationally celebrated artists including Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, David Foster, Sarah McLachlan, Angela Hewitt, and Diana Krall. Motivated by its powerful mission to develop human potential through leadership in music and arts education, The Royal Conservatory has emerged over the last two decades as a leader in the development of arts-based programs that address a wide range of social issues. For more information, please visit

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