Abigail Disney

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Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney 120613-N-LE393-021 (7369107672).jpg
Abigail Disney speaking in 2012
Born (1960-01-24) January 24, 1960 (age 59)
EducationYale University (BA)
Stanford University (MA)
Columbia University (PhD)
OccupationFilmmaker and philanthropist
Known forPray the Devil Back to Hell
Pierre Norman Hauser (m. 1988)
Parent(s)Roy E. Disney
Patricia Ann Dailey

Abigail E. Disney (born January 24, 1960 in Los Angeles, California) is an American documentary filmmaker, philanthropist, and activist known for her documentary films focused on social themes. She is the Executive Producer and Director of the Emmy-winning film The Armor of Light, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Abigail Disney was raised in North Hollywood, California, and was educated at Yale (BA), Stanford (MA, English Lit), and Columbia (PhD, English Lit).[3] She is the daughter of Patricia Ann (née Dailey) and Roy E. Disney and granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company with her great uncle Walt Disney.[4] While pursuing her PhD, Disney taught English and American literature at Iona College and wrote a dissertation on the role of romanticized violence in American life.[5]



She turned to the family business of filmmaking with a documentary film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Academy Award-nominated, Emmy-winning filmmaker Gini Reticker.[6][7][8] Pray the Devil Back to Hell brought to light the work of Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee by telling the story about the critical role women played in bringing peace to war torn Liberia. Pray the Devil Back to Hell won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008, and screened in 60 countries around the world on all seven continents.[9][10]

In 2007, she and Gini Reticker founded Fork Films, a New York-based production company that seeks to shed light, evoke compassion, stir action and build peace. She is the President and CEO, and Reticker is the Chief Creative Officer.[11]

In 2009, Fork Films and Film Sprout partnered together to create Pray the Devil Back to Hell's Global Peace Tour, a nine-month grassroots screening tour that culminated on the United Nations' International Day of Peace on September 21, 2009. In total, the tour brought the film to 31 foreign countries, 45 U.S. states and 235 U.S. cities.[12] The film is broadly credited with highlighting the bravery and sacrifice of its lead figure, Leymah Gbowee, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

The response to Pray the Devil Back to Hell led Disney to work on the five-part special series for PBS, Women, War & Peace, which aired in 2011 and was the winner of the Overseas Press Club's Edward R. Murrow Award, a Gracie Award, a Television Academy Honor and the America Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award (for I Came to Testify). This series created and executive produced by Abigail Disney, Pamela Hogan and Gini Reticker looked at the role of women in war in the modern age, not just as victims of conflict, but as active agents for peace in their communities. Also in 2011, Disney received an Athena Film Festival Award for her extraordinary use of film for social change.[13][14]

Disney executive produced The Trials of Spring (2015), a major documentary event that includes a feature-length documentary, six short films, articles by award-winning journalists, and an ongoing robust social media conversation about women and their unwavering quest for social justice and freedom. The feature film, directed by Gini Reticker, chronicles the story of 21-year-old Hend Nafea, who sets out on a search for freedom and justice in a country gripped by a dangerous power struggle where there is little tolerance for the likes of her. The six short films were featured on The New York Times homepage in the six days leading up to the world premiere of The Trials of Spring at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City in June 2015.[15]

Disney made her directorial debut with The Armor of Light, which follows pro-life evangelical minister Rev. Rob Schenck, Lucy McBath, the mother of teenager Jordan Davis, and John Michael Phillips. Jordan Davis was gunned down in Jacksonville, Florida on November 23, 2012. Davis was unarmed at the time of his death, and his story has cast a spotlight on "Stand Your Ground" laws in the United States. The film follows Rev. Schenck as he meets McBath, a pro-choice Christian, and her attorney John Phillips. It leads to the question: is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life? The Armor of Light premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015 before opening theatrically on October 30, 2015.[16] In 2017, it was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Community activism and philanthropy[edit]

Disney and her husband Pierre Hauser created The Daphne Foundation in 1991 in order to fund programs that confront the causes and consequences of poverty in the five boroughs of New York City.[17]

In 2008, Disney launched Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that inspires action through media and live events that spotlight women leaders on the frontlines of peacebuilding worldwide. The organization’s mission is to generate a groundswell of people committed to building a culture of peace. Disney serves as the Founder and President.[18]

Disney has made several overseas trips with fellow peace activists, including Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee. The two traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2011 to spend a week working with women peace activists and to explore ideas for building peace in their country.[19] The following year, they visited Sri Lanka, where women activists launched the Sri Lankan Women's Agenda on Peace, Security and Development, inspired by Gbowee's legacy.[20]

In 2012 she renounced her share of the profits from the Disney family investment in the Ahava cosmetics company whose factory is located in a West Bank settlement. She stated "I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the 'plunder' or 'pillage' of occupied natural resources..." For legal reasons she could not withdraw her investments and therefore donated the investments and profits "to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation."[21]

In May 2015, Disney joined Gbowee and 28 other international women peacebuilders to cross the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea in an act of solidarity with Korean women and to call for an end to the Korean War. The peacebuilders headed international peace symposia in Pyongyang and Seoul, where they listened to Korean women and shared experiences of mobilizing women to end conflict.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Disney married Pierre Norman Hauser in 1988 and has four children. Her first son is named Henry.[23][24] She lives in New York City.[25]


As executive producer
As producer
As writer
As director

Awards and recognition[edit]


  • The Women's Image Network Awards (2015) Woman of the Year Honoree[26] [27]
  • Epic Awards (2008) presented by the White House Project, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
  • Global Women's Rights Awards (2009) presented by the Feminist Majority Foundation, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
  • Auburn Lives of Commitment Award (2009), presented by Auburn Theological Seminary
  • 1st Annual Media Awards (2009), presented by Women's Media Center, with Gini Reticker
  • Crystal Award (2009), presented by The Victor E. Ward Educational Fund, with Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee
  • 2009 Auburn Lives of Commitment Award (2009), presented by Auburn Theological Seminary
  • Visionary Leader Award (2010), presented by Korean American Family Services Center
  • Mercy Center Honoree (2010), presented by Mercy Center
  • 2010 Honoree (2010), presented by Girl Scouts of America
  • Phoenix Award (2010), presented by New York Asian Women's Center
  • Visionary Social Change Award (2011), presented by African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF)
  • Athena Award (2011), presented by Barnard College, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Athena Film Festival, with Gini Reticker
  • International Advocate for Peace Award (2011), presented by Cardozo Law School's Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution
  • 2012 Gracie Award for Outstanding Producer-News/Nonfiction for Women, War & Peace (2012), presented by The Gracie Awards
  • The James Park Morton Interfaith Award (2012), presented by the Interfaith Center of New York, with Leymah Gbowee
  • Global Award for Media Leadership (2013), presented by Womensphere
  • Vanguard Award (2013), presented by Citizens' Committee for Children of New York
  • 2013 Honoree (2013), presented by YWLN
  • Leadership in Women's Philanthropy Award (2013), presented by The Dominican Women's Development Center
  • Morton Deutsch Award for Social Justice (2014), presented by the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
  • Legacy Award (2014), presented by Women for Afghan Women
  • Public Health Change Champion Award (2014), presented by The Public Health Institute[28]
  • IWMF (International Women's Media Foundation) Courage in Journalism Awards: Leadership Honoree (2015), presented by IWMF[29]

Honorary Degrees[edit]



  1. ^ "The Armor of Light | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribecafilm.com. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  2. ^ "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  3. ^ UCR Newsroom: Award-winning Filmmaker to Speak at UCR. Newsroom.ucr.edu (April 27, 2011). Retrieved on March 28, 2012.
  4. ^ Abigail Disney Isn't Interested In Cinderella Stories. Forbes.com (August 19, 2010). Retrieved on March 28, 2012.
  5. ^ "Abigail E. Disney Biography | NAFSA". www.nafsa.org. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  6. ^ "Women, War & Peace ~ About the Producers : Wide Angle". Pbs.org. January 21, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  7. ^ "Pray the Devil Back to Hell". Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  8. ^ "About". Fork Films. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Pray the Devil Back to Hell | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  10. ^ LLC, Fork Films. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Filmmakers". praythedevilbacktohell.com. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "About". Fork Films. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  12. ^ LLC, Fork Films. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Global Peace Tour". Praythedevilbacktohell.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  13. ^ "Women, War and Peace". PBS. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "February 18-21, 2016 New York City". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "About |". Trialsofspring.com. December 11, 2014. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  16. ^ "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  17. ^ "About". Daphne Foundation. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  18. ^ "Our Team". Peace is Loud. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  19. ^ "Women Peacebuilders in the DRC – Nobel Women's Initiative". Nobelwomensinitiative.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  20. ^ "A Local Girl with a Global Platform: Leymah Gbowee and Sri Lanka". Africa.com. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  21. ^ "Disney heir renounces profits from Ahava", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 16, 2012.
  22. ^ "WomenCrossDMZ Peace Walk 2015". Womencrossdmz.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  23. ^ "Abigail Disney, Ph.D Candidate, Weds Pierre Norman Hauser 2d at Columbia". NYTimes.com. October 9, 1988. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  24. ^ [1][dead link]
  25. ^ "NPA 5th Birthday with Abigail Disney". Nationalpeaceacademy.us. March 4, 2014. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  26. ^ "Women's Image Network Announces Abigail Disney Woman of the Year Honoree | PRLog". www.prlog.org. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  27. ^ "Abigail Disney, Irena Medavoy Honored at Women's Image Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  28. ^ [2] Archived October 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Intl. Women's Media Foundation Honors Disney, Deutsch". EDGE Media Network. Retrieved October 21, 2015.

External links[edit]