Irene Mecchi
Irene Mecchi.png
Biographical information

San Francisco, California

Career information



1979 – present


The Lion King

"[Working on The Lion King is like] writing in layers. You are constantly going back and putting another layer on. Because the film is in production for such a long period of time, there are always opportunities to improve and re-address issues and to contribute to the growth of the characters."
―Irene Mecchi on writing for The Lion King[1]

Irene Mecchi is an American writer who has written for print, television, film, and theatre.[2] Her feature film writing credits include Disney's The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules.


Mecchi was born in the third generation of her family that lived in San Francisco, California. She later received a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and continued her studies at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.[2] As she began to start her career, her aspirations to direct theater led her to the renowned American Conservatory Theater (ACT), where her instructor, Second City alumnus Joy Carlin, was impressed with her writing and encouraged her to pursue it on a full-time basis.[1]

Her first work began when she wrote a series of children's programs for Nickelodeon such as By the Way.[3] Mecchi's first network writing assignment was on the Emmy Award-winning Lily Tomlin special, Lily: Sold Out.[1] Her later television credits also include Valerie, The Popcorn Kid, and a season as staff writer on My Sister Sam. Along with that, Mecchi researched and wrote a play drawn from 50 years of legendary newspaper columnist Herb Caen's witty observations of San Francisco. The play was "work-shopped" at ACT and led Mecchi to edit two books of Caen writings, which were published in 1992 and 1993.[1]

Finally, Mecchi began her association with Disney in March 1992, when she wrote a 10-minute animated short called "Recycle Rex." That short film encouraged younger viewers to "recycle, reduce and reuse" waste materials. During the summer of 1992, Mecchi was brought on board to help further develop the characters and define their personalities. Several months later, she was joined by Jonathan Roberts in the rewriting process[1] of the screenplay. Together, both writers tackled the difficult unresolved emotional issues in the script, which created Timon, Pumbaa, and the hyenas.[1] One example of her touch on the film was when she added the moment when Rafiki hits Simba's head after the visitation of his father.[4]

After the success of The Lion King, she signed to co-write the screenplay of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which reunited her with Lion King producer, Don Hahn) and Hercules. Also, she reteamed with Roger Allers to co-write the book for the musical adaptation of The Lion King, to which they were nominated a Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical. She would later reteam again with Allers to contribute additional screenplay material to The Lion King 1½.

Meechi served as the co-screenwriter for the Disney-Pixar film, Brave, which was co-directed by Lion King story supervisor, Brenda Chapman. In June 2013, Chapman stated she and Mecchi were developing Rumblewick at DreamWorks Animation, which went unproduced.[5][6] In November 2014, it was announced Mecchi was co-writing the screenplay for Lucasfilm's animated musical film, Strange Magic.[7] That same year, she wrote the teleplay for NBC's Peter Pan Live!,[8] in which she revised the characterization of Captain Hook.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Lion King: Film Notes.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Irene Mecchi - Stanford Center on Longevity. Stanford Center on Longevity..
  3. By The Way- Ultra-rare/lost Nickelodeon show from 1979, Intro & Host Segments on YouTube. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  4. The Lion King: Platinum Edition (Disc 2), Story Origins
  5. Schavemaker, Peter (June 11, 2013). An Interview From Abroad with Brenda Chapman. Animation. Retrieved on May 20, 2017.
  6. Failes, Ian (September 26, 2016). Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman. Cartoon Brew. Retrieved on May 20, 2017.
  7. Wolfe, Jennifer (November 11, 2014). Disney Announces George Lucas' Animated Musical ‘Strange Magic’. Animation World Network. Retrieved on May 20, 2017.
  8. Grady, Pam (December 2, 2014). A dream takes flight for 'Peter Pan Live!’ writer. San Francisco Gate. Retrieved on May 20, 2017.
  9. Littleton, Cynthia (November 26, 2014). NBC Hopes ‘Peter Pan Live’ Can Fly to New Heights. Variety. Retrieved on May 20, 2017.

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