When you draw, you kind of have to imitate it. Like, if he's upset, you kind of have to be like . . . it automatically comes out onto the paper.

–Jose Zelaya, in an interview with ABC News

Jose Zelaya is the lead character designer in The Lion Guard.

Early Life

Zeleya grew up in El Salvador during the Civil War. As a child, he drew pictures of gunfights, burning buildings, and helicopters being shot down. He also drew animals, and he spent time exploring forests and streams in search of creatures such as fish and lizards. When he was six years old, he told his mother that one day he would work for Mickey Mouse.

His mother moved them to California in 1989. Zelaya attended high school, where he created visual substitutes for essays and written tests.[1]


At twenty years old, he got a job as an animator for one of Disney's cartoons. Since then, he had worked on various shows and movies, including the Lilo & Stich: The Series and A Very Goofy Movie.[2]