Abigail Disney

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Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney (41078736881).jpg
Disney in 2018
Born (1960-01-24) January 24, 1960 (age 62)
OccupationFilm producer and philanthropist
Known forPray the Devil Back to Hell
Political partyDemocratic
Pierre Norman Hauser
(m. 1988)
RelativesDisney family

Abigail Edna Disney (born January 24, 1960) is an American documentary film producer, philanthropist, and social activist. She produced the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and is the executive producer, writer, and director of The Armor of Light, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Abigail Disney is the daughter of Patricia Ann (née Dailey) and Roy E. Disney. She is the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with her granduncle Walt Disney.[4]

She was raised in North Hollywood, California where she attended the Buckley School. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Yale University in 1982. She would go on to complete a Master of Arts in English Literature from Stanford University, and PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1994.[5][6][7] While pursuing her PhD, Disney taught English and American literature at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, and wrote a dissertation on the role of romanticized violence in American life: Shadows of doubt: The American historical war novels of James Fenimore Cooper, Stephen Crane and Thomas Pynchon.[8]

Film production career[edit]

She turned to the family business of film production with a documentary film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Gini Reticker.[9][10][11] 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.[12][13] It had cumulative gross worldwide of $90,066.

In 2007, she and Gini Reticker founded Fork Films, a New York-based production company. She is the president and CEO, and Reticker is the chief creative officer.[14] 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. The tour brought the film to 31 foreign countries and 235 U.S. cities in 45 different states.[15] The film highlights 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, and 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.[16][17]

Disney executive produced The Trials of Spring (2015), which includes a feature-length documentary and six short films.[18]

Disney made her directorial debut with The Armor of Light, which follows anti-abortion evangelical minister 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 Schenck as he meets McBath, a pro-choice Christian, and her attorney John Phillips. The Armor of Light premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2015 before opening theatrically on October 30, 2015.[19] In 2017, it won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary.[1]

In 2018, Disney partnered with Killer Content and launched Level Forward, a new breed film, television and theater production company focused on projects that extend the influence and opportunity of creative excellence and supports new voices.[20]

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.[21]

In 2008, Disney launched Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that uses media and live events to spotlight women leaders who build a culture of peace. Disney is the founder and president.[22]

In 2011, Disney traveled with Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee to the Congo to spend a week working with other women peace activists and to explore ideas for building peace in their country.[23] 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.[24]

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."[25]

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.[26]

She is part of the group The Patriotic Millionaires. This is a group of wealthy people who support hiking taxes on the rich. They sent a clear demand for higher tax rates at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020.[27][28]

In June 2021, Disney published an opinion piece in The Atlantic criticising practices by wealthy individuals who reduce their tax burden and protect their wealth across generations through practices such as "offsetting income with losses in unrelated businesses; structuring assets to grow rather than generate income, then borrowing against those growing assets for cash needs; and deducting interest payments and state taxes from taxable income".[29]

Criticism of the Disney Corporation[edit]

On April 21, 2019, Disney, through several tweets, criticized Disney CEO Bob Iger's compensation. In 2018, Iger earned a $66 million package, while in 2019, his compensation package was estimated to be approximately $35 million.[30] One month before this statement, she had claimed that CEOs are generally "paid far too much," saying that "there is nobody on Earth [who is] worth 500 times his median workers' pay."[31] On April 22, the Disney Corporation responded in a statement that the company has made "historic investments" in its workers' pay and benefits, and defended the CEO's compensation, which it said is "90% performance-based." The company stated that Iger "has delivered exceptional value for shareholders."[30] On April 23, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Abigail Disney where she again criticized the "never [before] so profitable" Disney corporation and called for pay equity reform.[32]

In July 2019, Abigail Disney criticized working conditions at Disneyland after a meeting with employees at their union office. She stated that the Disneyland employees she talked to have to forage for food in other people's garbage.[33][34]

Again turning to Twitter in 2020, Disney publicly criticized the corporation for furloughing hundreds of thousands of low paid workers during the coronavirus pandemic.[35]

In May 2020, Disney gave a TED talk in which she criticized the pay rates of employees at Disney theme parks. Disney said that when she was growing up, a custodian at Disneyland could make enough money to feed a family, own a modest home, and access decent health care. Today, "three out of four of the people who smile when you walk in, who help you comfort that crying baby, who maybe help you have the best vacation you ever have, can't consistently put food on the table." She added, "Disney has turned a pretty profit on the idea that families are a kind of magic, that love is important, that imaginations matter. That's why it turns your stomach a little bit when I tell you that Cinderella might be sleeping in her car."[36]

As of 2019, Abigail Disney's net worth was approximately $120 million.[5][37]

In 2022, Disney joined current and past Disney employees in criticizing Bob Chapek for refusing to make statement on legislation in Florida (Florida House Bill 1557) which is officially named the Parental Rights in Education Bill and was passed in February of that same year. The law prohibits the teaching of gender identity in schools prior to 4th grade.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Disney married Pierre Norman Hauser in 1988.[39] She lives in New York City and has four children.[40]



Year Title Notes
2008 Pray the Devil Back to Hell Executive producer
2009 Sergio Co-executive producer
Children of Invention Executive producer
Playground Executive producer
2010 Family Affair Executive producer
Secrets of the Tribe Executive producer
Sons of Perdition Executive producer
!Women Art Revolution Executive producer
Lost Bohemia Executive producer
2011 Return Executive producer
Hell and Back Again Executive producer
Sun Come Up Executive producer
Mothers of Bedford Executive producer
Lemon Executive producer
2012 The Queen of Versailles Executive producer
The Invisible War Executive producer
This Is How I Roll Executive producer
Sexy Baby Executive producer
The Iran Job Executive producer
Alias Ruby Blade Executive producer
2013 Open Heart Executive producer
Citizen Koch Executive producer
Small Small Thing Executive producer
The Only Real Game Executive producer
Hateship, Loveship Executive producer
Seeds of Time Executive producer
2014 Land Ho! Co-executive producer
Food Chains Executive producer
Vessel Executive producer
1971 Executive producer
Out in the Night Executive producer
She's Beautiful When She's Angry Executive producer
2015 Hot Girls Wanted Executive producer
The Mask You Live In Executive producer
The Invitation Co-executive producer
From This Day Forward Executive producer
Tocando la Luz Executive producer
Drawing the Tiger Executive producer
The Armor of Light Director, executive producer
The Trials of Spring Executive producer
The Babushkas of Chernobyl Executive producer
Buffalo Returns Executive producer
2016 Lovesong Co-executive producer
Cameraperson Executive producer
Split Executive producer
Shadow World Executive producer
The Boy Who Cried Fish Executive producer
Girl Unbound: The War to Be Her Executive producer
2017 Bending the Arc Co-executive producer
Love the Sinner Executive producer
When God Sleeps Executive producer
Joy Joy Nails Executive producer
Birds Like Us Executive producer
Liyana Executive producer
Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs Executive producer
Naila and the Uprising Executive producer
62 Days Executive producer
2018 The Tale Executive producer
The Long Dumb Road Co-executive producer
Call Her Ganda Executive producer
Roll Red Roll Executive producer
Netizens Executive producer
The Way Madness Lies Executive producer
Grit Executive producer
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché Executive producer
Same God Executive producer
Afterward Executive producer
2019 American Woman Executive producer
Cooked: Survival by Zip Code Executive producer
The Assistant Executive producer
2020 On the Record Executive producer
Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen Executive producer
Mayor Executive producer
Love & Stuff Contributing producer
The 8th Executive producer
For the Love of Rutland Executive producer
Holler Executive producer
Missing in Brooks County Executive producer
2021 The People vs. Agent Orange Executive producer
Rebel Hearts Executive producer
Women in Blue Executive producer
United States vs. Reality Winner Co-executive producer
The First Step Executive producer
You Resemble Me Executive producer

Awards and recognition[edit]



  1. ^ a b Phillips, Craig (October 5, 2017). "Independent Lens Wins Four 2017 News and Documentary Emmys". PBS.
  2. ^ "The Armor of Light | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribecafilm.com. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  3. ^ "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  4. ^ "Abigail Disney Isn't Interested In Cinderella Stories". Forbes. August 19, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew (July 5, 2019). "Abigail Disney: 'I'm choosing to be a traitor to my class'". Financial Times. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Miller, Bettye (April 27, 2011). "Award-winning Filmmaker to Speak at UCR". University of California, Riverside Newsroom. Archived from the original on September 22, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  7. ^ "Abigail Disney, Ph.D Candidate, Weds Pierre Norman Hauser 2d at Columbia". New York Times. October 9, 1988. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  8. ^ "Abigail E. Disney Biography | NAFSA". www.nafsa.org. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  9. ^ "Women, War & Peace ~ About the Producers : Wide Angle". Pbs.org. January 21, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  10. ^ "Pray the Devil Back to Hell". Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  11. ^ "About". Fork Films. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  12. ^ "Pray the Devil Back to Hell | Tribeca Film Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  13. ^ LLC, Fork Films. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell: Filmmakers". praythedevilbacktohell.com. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  14. ^ "About". Fork Films. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Women, War and Peace". PBS. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  17. ^ "February 18-21, 2016 New York City". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "About |". Trialsofspring.com. December 11, 2014. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  19. ^ "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  20. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (January 13, 2018). "Abigail Disney, Killer Content Partner to Launch Female-Led Level Forward Studio". Variety. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  21. ^ "About". Daphne Foundation. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  22. ^ "Our Team". Peace is Loud. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  23. ^ "Women Peacebuilders in the DRC – Nobel Women's Initiative". Nobelwomensinitiative.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  24. ^ "A Local Girl with a Global Platform: Leymah Gbowee and Sri Lanka". Africa.com. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  25. ^ "Disney heir renounces profits from Ahava", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 16, 2012.
  26. ^ "WomenCrossDMZ Peace Walk 2015". Womencrossdmz.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  27. ^ Hirsch, Lauren (January 22, 2020). "Patriotic Millionaires' letter to Davos calls for 'higher and fairer' taxes on the global elite". CNBC.
  28. ^ "Miljonairs pleiten in Davos voor hogere belastingen". January 22, 2020.
  29. ^ Disney, Abigail (June 17, 2021). "I Was Taught From a Young Age to Protect My Dynastic Wealth". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  30. ^ a b Valinsky, Jordan (April 22, 2019). "Roy Disney's granddaughter thinks Bob Iger's paycheck is 'insane'". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  31. ^ Disis, Jill (March 7, 2019). "Disney shareholders narrowly approve CEO Bob Iger's pay package". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  32. ^ Disney, Abigail (April 23, 2019). "It's time to call out my family's company". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  33. ^ Liao, Shannon (July 17, 2019). "Abigail Disney visited Disneyland. She is 'livid' about what she saw". CNN Business.
  34. ^ Corey, Rebecca (July 15, 2019). "'I was so livid': Disney heiress visits theme park to see worker conditions". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019.
  35. ^ Jordan Valinsky. "Abigail Disney on Disney furloughs: 'What the actual f---'?". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  36. ^ Disney, Abigail (May 2020). "Dignity isn't a privilege. It's a worker's right". TED.
  37. ^ Rogers, Taylor Nicole. "The Disney heiress who has demanded a wealth tax on the ultrarich and thinks private jets should be outlawed finally sets the record straight on her personal net worth". Business Insider.
  38. ^ Saha, Joy (March 7, 2022). ""What a complete fool": Disney CEO criticized for refusing to publicly oppose "Don't Say Gay" bill". Salon. Archived from the original on March 8, 2022. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  39. ^ "Abigail Disney, Ph.D Candidate, Weds Pierre Norman Hauser 2d at Columbia". NYTimes.com. October 9, 1988. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  40. ^ "NPA 5th Birthday with Abigail Disney". Nationalpeaceacademy.us. March 4, 2014. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  41. ^ "Women's Image Network Announces Abigail Disney Woman of the Year Honoree | PRLog". www.prlog.org. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  42. ^ "Abigail Disney, Irena Medavoy Honored at Women's Image Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  43. ^ [1] Archived October 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ "Intl. Women's Media Foundation Honors Disney, Deutsch". EDGE Media Network. Retrieved October 21, 2015.

External links[edit]