JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) – Great characters become legends, and legends never die.

“The PIXAR secret sauce,” said Robert Lence. “Story comes first; it’s always all about the story, as it should be.”

Lence is a legend in storytelling in his own right. He helped to create characters like Buzz Lightyear and Shrek as a storyteller with many titles, like director, head of story, and animator at Disney, PIXAR, and Dreamworks. And his story started right in the tri-state area.

“I grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, went to P.S. 101, Forest Hills High School, and always dreamed of getting into the arts,” said Lence. 

He made his homecoming on Friday to help open Liberty Science Center’s new exhibit, “The Science Behind PIXAR,” a 13,000-square-foot showcase of PIXAR’s development process.

“They would tell us, ‘Don’t worry about the tech stuff, you just worry about creating good, entertaining, emotional, funny, good business, and let us work about the tech stuff, we’ll figure that out,'” said Lence. 

Creating their own storyboards using characters from “Toy Story,” students at Jersey City’s Kindle Charter School walked away inspired, having a chance to meet one of the minds of the movies they grew up watching.

Any great movie character has a desire and purpose. Lence’s purpose on Friday was to instill one lesson:

“It’s all about the story, and we all have stories to tell,” said Lence. “We all have stories that only each unique person can tell. No one else can tell your story for you. You have a story to tell, and everyone, all of us, has a story to tell.”

The Science Behind PIXAR opens at Liberty Science Center on Saturday.