• BronyCon Press Conference with Lauren Faust and Bonnie Zacherle

    (Artist: Silver Fox)

    At BronyCon this year, they have an absolute armada of big show names in attendance. With that, comes press conferences!

    A bunch of people from EQD decided to hit up the Lauren Faust and Bonnie Zacherle event, asking various questions and digging into what all went into making pony such an amazing show.

    We have video, but it's not uploaded yet. For now, audio and transcripts are available. Head on down below the break for it!

    TJ Carson: Welcome to the first press conference of Brony Con 2019. I'm TJ Carson. I'm the press manager here and I'll be hosting all the press conferences this weekend. This will be our first one here, and it's one with some very important people in, not only this fandom, but in My Little Pony in general, and it's a great honor to have these two with us today. Let me introduce them to you real quick. To my far left, we have Lauren Faust.

    Lauren Faust: Hello.

    TJ Carson: She is best known as the developer and the executive producer of My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic. She has also worked on Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, The Powerpuff Girls and Wander Over Yonder. She's also currently the executive producer of DC Supergirls on Cartoon Network.

    TJ Carson: And to my immediate left here is Bonnie Zacherele. She joined Hasbro in 1980, and while working as an illustrator, she used a childhood love of horses to create My Little Pony and My Pretty Pony. She also worked on the redesign of Mr Potato Head. Shortly before My Little Pony hit the market, she left for Parker Brothers, where she created the Nerfuls toy line.

    TJ Carson: With that in mind, who's got questions?

    Speaker 4: Pleased to meet both of you. This is for you, Bonnie, How do you feel about the evolution of the toy designs as a progress over the generations?

    Bonnie Z.: Well, I'm pretty amazed, because I only did the first six and there have been subsequent numerous designers who have reconfigured Pony every time they did. But Lauren, I think, made the most strides in changing Pony and giving it personality. And I think it's great, because everyone brings their own personality to the toy, which I think is great. It's very organic, and always changing, always evolving. It's getting better, I'd say.

    TJ Carson: Yes?

    Speaker 5: Lauren when you created, I have a 14 year old boy, I remember My Little Pony back in the day. did you ever think that it would evolve to all of this?

    Lauren Faust: No to put it bluntly. I took on this show because of my love, My Little Pony when I was a little girl. I come from a more traditional animation background and never worked much with toys before My Little Pony came along, and I think ... I like to think that maybe that the love and passion that I had for the toys that Bonnie created is what resonated with people as much as it did to blow up into something so huge. It's been fascinating and a total honor.

    TJ Carson: Yes?

    Speaker 6: Johnson, how is it going guys? Laura, I know you left the show rather early. But are you at least happy that it's ending the way you had originally planned?

    Lauren Faust: Is it ending the way I originally planned?

    Speaker 6: With Twilight becoming twilight becoming the new princess of Equestria.

    Lauren Faust: I hate to say it but I haven't had the opportunity to see the finale yet. My like current job on Superhero Girls is pretty demanding. So I don’t watch a lot of TV.

    Bonnie Z.: She works way too hard.

    Lauren Faust: [inaudible 00:03:27] Bonnie. [crosstalk 00:03:28] great group but like I'm happy to hear that. That's, that's fantastic. That was the goal.

    TJ Carson: Yes.

    Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:03:35] will you be watching the finale and the last few seasons at any point soon or whenever-

    Lauren Faust: As soon as I have some time. I have a three year old daughter so I assume at some point she's going to want to watch everything so I'm sure I'll be watching it with her.

    Speaker 7: What do you think of the show's [inaudible 00:03:55]?

    Lauren Faust: It's wonderful to know that as the show progressed that the fans still loved it. And that characterizations that I helped come up with continued to live on and stay true to the, to the original vision of them. And that means a lot to me. It sounds like even that those original ideas, and the bigger greater world of Equestria has even made its way into the comic books and that's exciting to know.

    TJ Carson: Yes?

    Speaker 8: Can you think of any other cartoon that's had quite the same power of My Little Pony? I mean I'm thinking about [inaudible 00:04:43] the other shows from back in the day. What is it about My Little Pony that's given this show series such insane power?

    Bonnie Z.: I'm really a toy person. I did the first toy. And when I created the first toy I came up with crazy names with no personality, no background, somebody else thought of something to put on the package. The fact that it has evolved into such a great show, I think is wonderful thanks to Lauren and diverse people worked with you I'm sure. The fact that it has become a long lasting cartoon show goes way beyond the toys really.

    TJ Carson: If I could ask you a follow up question kind of on that regards body, when you created My Little Pony, what were your expectations for how it would grow and how it would be? And then to that point, did you ever imagine it would become something like this where you have 11,000 people in the city celebrating it?

    Bonnie Z.: Not at all. I knew it was a good idea. I knew it was something I liked and wanted as a child. But I ... it's the fact that so many people were involved into the product and the show and just made it their own. That I think ... you don't, you don't have something that stays the way it is and lasts for 35 plus years. You just don't.

    Lauren Faust: Well I think it's interesting that you say that you created the toys out of ... because it was something you wanted.

    Bonnie Z.: Exactly.

    Lauren Faust: And I think that the toys coming from a place of like love from you, and then all those years later coming from a place of love from me is what pushed it forward. That that love reached out to all those other people. And as creative people, I think that's the most important thing because you have marketing experts who say, well, our research says that children like this and we should make a toy like this. And people like Bonnie and I go, well I remember being a little kid and this is what I want to say. So I'm just going to make what I wish it was around when I little. And that's the stuff that I think hits harder than anything that has just come from market research.

    Bonnie Z.: It's the spirit behind it, and with subsequent designer creator, it's like they give it their own spirit, you know? And you have to start from that and just your imagination, and fun, and love of what you're doing really. It makes a difference.

    TJ Carson: Cal?

    Cal: For Bonnie, Calpain from Equestria Daily. You have a very long history in the toy industry, and are mainly known for the My Little Pony brand. And as TJ has mentioned, you have worked on Mr Potato head and then worked at Parker Brothers correct?

    Bonnie Z.: Right.

    Cal: Can you give a little bit more background at all about your history at Parker Brothers and what else you went on to do?

    Bonnie Z.: Sure. Well working as a toy designer, it was my job and I came into it as an illustrator. They called me industrial designer. But you know, I don't have a degree in industrial design certainly. I always thought I'd probably do children's books, but it's creating characters that really was enjoyable for me. And, but every day you're supposed to come up with a new idea, or design something already done, redesigning something and it was kind of hit or miss. I mean to have a popular toy that lasts more than one, two, three years, it's just amazing. And the fact that Pony's lasted this long and is incredible.

    Bonnie Z.: But the last year I was there at Hasbro for five years. [inaudible 00:08:58] and they were trying to convince me the stay and they said, Bonnie it could be good. And I said, Well, why aren't you spending more money on advertising then. They had another whole line, which they're putting a lot of time behind.

    Bonnie Z.: And it's just after five years you think, no I love this toy, but they're not backing it so what's going to happen to it? And Pony not Pony, but Potato Head was already a given. And the fact that I got to redesign it in a more modern way was fun and make Ms Potato Head was fun too. I did enjoy it all the time. But successes is rare in the toy business, it really is.

    TJ Carson: Owen you had a question?

    Owen: Yeah I did. Lauren, you're saying that your inspiration from as a child playing with little pony toys made you want to make the TV show. Is there anything else from your childhood that you would want to make a TV show based on?

    Lauren Faust: Oh goodness. It's-

    Bonnie Z.: Don't give it away for nothing.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah no kidding. I was a child of the 80s so I loved Strawberry Shortcake, liked me some Rainbow Bright, there's General Holograms. There was always a part of me that was always a little bored by that sort of thing. I'm lucky right now because I am making another show with characters I loved as a child, Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Bat Girl, getting, getting my hands into like the superhero storylines, but also staying into like the girl emotional side of it, and growing up aspect of it. But there's the stuff that inspires you and I love rebooting stuff, but there's also you take what inspires you to create new things as well. And that's where I'd like to go moving forward.

    Owen: Okay.

    TJ Carson: You had one?

    Speaker 11: Yeah. The Illustrious Q from Equestria Daily, a question for Lauren. Lauren what was some of the lessons that you learned while developing My Little Pony that you ended up deploying for the development of DC Superhero Girls?

    Lauren Faust: One thing is, we talked about in the past that with My Little Pony as long as you create relationship stories and adventure stories because of the nature of the show and the original target for a very young audience, it's like the adventure stories we really had to get the idea of danger, or adventure through like the filmmaking, or the music, or that sort of thing. I had to hold back a little bit on what I wanted the adventure stories to be. In Superhero Girls my characters beat the crap out of each other.

    Bonnie Z.: No holding back.

    Lauren Faust: There's no holding back. there's good guys, bad guys, the adventures are bigger, more dangerous. The characters are older so their relationships with one another, are a little bit more nuanced, a little bit more sophisticated. It was stuff that didn't seem quite right on Pony, at least when I started. I think it opened up a little bit after I left, but being able to take like those ideas and themes and tones into Superhero Girls has been very exciting.

    Speaker 11: Thank you. Just one follow up to that. How much fun was it listening in while Tara Strong was playing both Bat Girl and Harley Quinn?

    Lauren Faust: Well I've worked with Tara for a really long time. She was also Bubbles on the Powerpuff Girls. She has an incredible range and even on Superhero Girls, she does three voices for me. She does Bat Girl, she does Harley Quinn, and she the cheetah. So working with Tara on so many different levels for so many different characters is actually kind of run the bill for me because she's just so versatile and so fun to work with. It's just always great to see her and spend time with her and work with her.

    Speaker 11: Thank you.

    TJ Carson: Alex you had a question?

    Alex: I'm Alex. I'm the head of PR here for Brony Con. My quick question was you're both creative people, you both generated these ideas, just such a huge thing, but what was your favorite part of developing and building up these ideas?

    Lauren Faust: Do you want to start?

    Bonnie Z.: Getting it to market. That was a struggle. It's not easy. I mean drawing length was fairly easy and then that was not bad. But the business of making toys and running a popular toys, grueling. Not for me, but I mean it takes a long time.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah. You could the same for cartoon. For me, the most fun part of developing any cartoon is I love the beginning. I love creating the characters. I love drawing the characters. I love creating the worlds that they live in. Figuring out what their relationship dynamics are. And in the beginning you get to think really big. You don't have to hold back. And I would say you can bask in the potential of it all before you start making it and you have [inaudible 00:14:28] do that. We can't find an artist who can handle it. Then you start having to pull back. So that beginning phase when you're just dreaming it all up is by far the most fun part for me.

    Speaker 6: This actually goes for the both of you. Bonnie, how'd you know that the toys we're going to appeal to boys as well. And how'd you know that Friendship Is Magic was going to appeal to gentlemen?

    Bonnie Z.: Well, when I first created the idea of My Little Pony it was supposed to be realistic colors and realistic clay, I thought. And it wasn't my idea to make them pink and purple. I fought it [crosstalk 00:15:18] my marketing director said, Bonnie what do you think of pink purple? I said, get out of my office. And well little girls like pink and purple, but I'm knowing that I thought, well are you trying to cut out the boys? Because it was supposed to be a preschool toy, which should appeal to both boys and girls. And it was my intention that it should always appeal to boys and so I think that's great.

    Lauren Faust: And for the show, I had come from Powerpuff Girls, so you know that that's a show about three adorable kindergartners, and it had a very strong male audience. I always liked to say the girls bought the stuff, but as far as the ratings were concerned, more boys watched the show. And that was because the stories were compelling, there was action in it, and it was funny. So I wanted to bring those elements into My Little Pony. There was actually no doubt in my mind the boys would watch it. I didn't know if they would admit it or not.

    TJ Carson: Nine years later.

    Bonnie Z.: Right. But I knew ... I remember pitching once and saying, look because they weren't interested in boys. Nobody around me believed boys would watch it at all. I go, look, at the very least if the sister, if their sister is watching it when they come in the room, they'll sit down and watch it too. They won't take the remote control and put something else on. They'll they'll watch it because it's funny. It's compelling. They might not admit it, but they'll watch it and then yeah, it went far beyond that. Plenty of people admit it. Plenty of boys admit it.

    Speaker 6: If I could ask one follow up for both of you, is there one thing that you would do differently for you in creating the My Little Pony call toy line and for Lauren creating the show? Is there one thing that you wish you could've done a little differently?

    Bonnie Z.: I kind of always thought they should be posable just to give it a more life, and more playability. I don't know that that they could've successfully done that. I know how you could do it. [inaudible 00:17:32] they didn't need me to tell them.

    Lauren Faust: I think for me, I had no idea that the show would ever last this long. And I stayed for the first two seasons. I wish I had on that second season I decided let's just tread water, because I had a ending in mind, and I didn't know is the second season going to be our last season, or are we going to have a third? They're like, we don't know. We don't know yet. So I just decided to tread water and I wish that I had taken into it to my ending. I think that's my ... and then it could've lived on after that. That's actually a big regret for me. I wish I could have told the whole story the way and the way I wanted to.

    TJ Carson: I assuming you get this question a lot. You can answer if you want. How would you have ended it?

    Lauren Faust: Oh my goodness. I think I've talked to some people about it and I think it's leaked, so I might not be getting a whole lot of information. But I wanted ... I have this idea for elements of discord that characters like Trixie and other characters knew more kind of bad guy characters would come into and the girls would have to go off on like this bigger adventure to find the elements of discord, and then eventually find out that discord himself was the one who put them around, and he's back. And during this whole time they would've still thought that he's stone.

    Lauren Faust: This kind of bigger, grander adventure where their relationships went on as they went on this adventure and grew, and what were those elements of discord? What are the offices of the elements of harmony? Ultimately culminating in a big battle. Discord versus Celestia who wins. That was the vague sort of concept that I wanted to take it to like the beginnings of the ideas. And with ultimately Twilight becoming the [inaudible 00:19:52]. That was like another rough baseline of what I was interested in doing.

    TJ Carson: Okay. I think we have a question over ... Yes?

    Speaker 13: Yes. Okay. So you were involved with the [inaudible 00:20:05] herds project for a while. Are you still working with them on that or how's that ended for now? And do you have any plans in the future to support other smaller products like that?

    Lauren Faust: I'm still working with those guys. Not in as much of the capacity as I was a couple of years ago, simply because my job is a little too demanding for that now. But we check in regularly. I review work regularly. I follow them when they don't know. I'm online checking out what's going on and stuff. So I'm still involved and I'm when things lighten up for me I become a little bit more involved. It's fun. They're a great group of guys. I think the gang's fantastic.

    Lauren Faust: I don't currently have plans to work on smaller projects like that, but I'd always be open to if it was something that I felt like was in my wheel house or something I was excited about.

    TJ Carson: So we got about 10 minutes left so ...

    Speaker 14: Bonnie, what was your involvement, did you have any involvements at all in the development of the television show that followed the [inaudible 00:21:20]?

    Bonnie Z.: I was long gone. [crosstalk 00:21:23].

    Speaker 14: What were your thoughts, or did you have any thoughts? Did you see the first [inaudible 00:21:30]? Did you have any thoughts about what had happened in the toy line, and how they had transferred that into the television media?

    Bonnie Z.: Well, a friend of mine last night was making a girl's toys, and I was going through the new facilities, that My Little Pony built, and she said, you want to see the new line of ponies? And I'm like, sure. And she showed me, I think some of your original concepts and I'm like, whoa, this is like totally different. It's gone light years from what my little static standing ponies were. And I thought it was great And then when I saw the show I thought, well this is really a nice show. It's got some [inaudible 00:22:17]. It's got real ideas.

    Speaker 14: What about one the first on special [inaudible 00:22:22] specifically that was closer to your development time of before-

    Lauren Faust: The [inaudible 00:22:28] episode?

    Speaker 14: Yes. And the rescue-

    Bonnie Z.: [crosstalk 00:22:33] I know it's so long. I don't really remember that. I remember seeing the clips at that toy fair, which I thought were very fitting. I can't remember all the episodes. Can you?

    Lauren Faust: I remember that one [inaudible 00:22:53] not as much.

    TJ Carson: All right. Do we have someone who hasn't asked a question yet? Yes?

    Speaker 15: This question's for Bonnie, Have you followed any generations after you developed My Pretty Pony, and which one did you like in particular?

    Bonnie Z.: You know, I'm not a collector. At my age we try to get rid of things not collect. I have the original ponies that were mine and I give them away and sign them like their mind, but they're not. But there was ... and I don't even know what generation it was, but I thought it gave it more life that looked more like the originals. I have no idea what generation. How many generations are there?

    Speaker 15: We're on four right now.

    Bonnie Z.: Only four?

    Speaker 15: We're at four about to end it pretty soon. And there's going to be supposedly five on the horizon, but we don't have much details about when that's supposed to be.

    Bonnie Z.: Is there going to be a new generation?

    Speaker 15: Yes. That's the rumor right now.

    Bonnie Z.: What will they do? What will they look like? [crosstalk 00:24:02]. Who knows? I'm not at all involved. But and I love Lauren's take on it. If I'd come from animation, which I wanted to when I was younger, I probably might've gone that far. But way back 35 years ago I don't know that we're ready for that. Hasbro wasn't but you know.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah. Content for girls back then was particularly edgy or-

    Bonnie Z.: Yeah it was very stale, and girly.

    Lauren Faust: Girly in a bad way.

    Bonnie Z.: In a bad way, not in a good girly way.

    Lauren Faust: That's right.

    TJ Carson: Cal?

    Cal: Yes. This is for Lauren, as Bonnie has mentioned how it can be difficult to get a toy line to actually to come into production and be successful. I can imagine the same can be said for television shows. When I'm Friendship Is Magic was first in production and such like that were there any some nerves about how its success would be? And at what point did you realize that there might be something here when you were noticing probably responses on your Deviant art page back then from fans that had just seen the show? Did you notice that there was something there at some point?

    Lauren Faust: The first part of your question was?

    Cal: Was there any kind of kind of nervous that excitement about the show coming out? How did you feel about that when it was first-

    Lauren Faust: Well, it's actually very interesting because for years I had been pitching shows for girls, like for years and years and years, after the success of Powerpuff Girls, I stupidly thought it would be easy. And I got a lot like we love this, but girls don't watch cartoons. So which is wrong, but that's what I got a lot of. So I got a lot of rejection for it.

    Lauren Faust: When Hasbro contacted me, and was interested in Pony I felt like I was nervous about working for a toy company, but I loved Homie so much I wanted to give it a go. I think because they were launching the, that Hasbro partnering with the Hub and they were launching that program, or that channel, I think they were putting their bets on Transformers and GI Joe. So I was a little more under the radar and I think that's kind of why I got to do it the way I wanted it.

    Bonnie Z.: You snuck right in didn't you?

    Lauren Faust: Yeah, and they weren't paying attention. And I think my theory is that they felt like, oh it's My Little Pony. Little girls will watch it. They'll want the toys, and it'll be successful. We just need commercials for our toys. And, I don't think anybody was expecting what actually happened.

    Bonnie Z.: Probably not.

    Lauren Faust: There wasn't ... I can't say there was nervous energy within the group. They just wanted commercials for their toys. For me, there's a little bit of nervous energy because at the time things like My Little Pony, or Strawberry Shortcake were almost used as examples of why things for girls [inaudible 00:27:15]. So I was like, I might get a lot of backlash from this. As much as I love it, and as much as I care about this, in my, animation community, this might look like me selling out. This might look like me, like coming from Powerpuff Girls, and Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, like taking a step down. I think it did the exact opposite.

    Lauren Faust: There was just the point, I couldn't believe how fast it happened, where I just started seeing it blowing up online and getting some traction and it just wasn't hard to find it everywhere. And that's when I started thinking something's happening here. But I didn't think it was going to last. I'm all like it's just novel. People thought it was going to be dumb, and then they watched it and it wasn't dumb. And that was really interesting. So they'll watch for a while but they'll find something new, or they'll get over it because it's too girly and too magical. And that didn't happen either. So it just kept growing and growing and growing.

    Lauren Faust: But when, when it started blowing up online was when I [inaudible 00:28:23] not expecting.

    Bonnie Z.: A nice surprise.

    Lauren Faust: Yes. Very nice surprise.

    Bonnie Z.: And it's grass roots.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah. It just ... the word just spread. They were people who were ripping it, putting up on YouTube, and I don't know if Hasbro did it on purpose, they weren't telling them to take it down. And I'm like either they're not paying attention, or they're brilliant because not everybody got the Hub, so it was the only way to spread it around was to let that happen even though it wasn't supposed to be happening. And I think that's a big part of it as well.

    Bonnie Z.: Is the Hub still around?

    Lauren Faust: I think it went back to National Geographic Kids and-

    TJ Carson: It changed to Discovery Family.

    Lauren Faust: Oh that's right. Yeah.

    Bonnie Z.: And [inaudible 00:29:07] only thing that lasted isn't it?

    TJ Carson: Yes.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah I think so. [inaudible 00:29:15].

    Bonnie Z.: A lot, it says a lot.

    TJ Carson: We got time for one more quick question. Yes?

    Speaker 6: Okay so obviously [inaudible 00:29:23] will either of you be staying around the fan scene, and staying around [inaudible 00:29:28]? And also if you guys had the chance a work on [inaudible 00:29:31] would you take it?

    Lauren Faust: I probably would not. Just because I have other things going on and always moving forward creatively. I'm very interested in seeing what it turns into, and whether it still resonates for people. But I'm assuming that in venues like this, and I amongst the fandom that the love for Friendship Is Magic, [inaudible 00:30:02] will stick around, and I want to still hang out with those people.

    Bonnie Z.: For sure. I don't know that he would be interested in my contribution, but let someone else do it. It's a time to pass the baton really. And I passed mine five years ago really.

    Lauren Faust: And yeah it's a nice deal for any property to have, to constantly be reinvented so [crosstalk 00:30:36].

    Bonnie Z.: To come up with new ideas for something you did a long time ago.

    Lauren Faust: Yeah. It kind of gets stuck where you were.

    Bonnie Z.: I tried to sell Hasbro with Pony ideas, and of course they turned them all down since they had to pay for them. And then I got out. But, someone else will come along and I'm sure they'll do a fine job.

    TJ Carson: All right. Well, I want to thank Lauren and Bonnie for taking some time out today to talk with you guys. The answers the questions. Not Just that, but just of bigger things. Because without your creativity, without your vision, without making any of this possible, none of us would be here this weekend. None of this would've ever been possible, and I don't think there's enough things in the world for what you guys have done or everybody in this fandom, and what you've done for them, and how you've changed their lives. So a big thank you to you both for that.

    Lauren Faust: Thank you.

    Bonnie Z.: Thank you.