Abigail Disney

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Abigail Disney
Abigail Disney 120613-N-LE393-021 (7369107672).jpg
Disney speaking in 2012
Born (1960-01-24) January 24, 1960 (age 61)
OccupationFilmmaker and philanthropist
Known forPray the Devil Back to Hell
Political partyDemocratic
Pierre Norman Hauser
(m. 1988)
RelativesSee Disney 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, and grossed $12,267 worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Abigail Disney was raised in North Hollywood, California, and graduated from Buckley School, Yale University (BA, 1982), Stanford University (MA), and Columbia University (PhD).[5][6] 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.[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.[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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18]

Disney executive produced The Trials of Spring (2015), which includes a feature-length documentary and six short films.[19]

Disney made her directorial debut with The Armor of Light, which follows pro-life 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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]

In 2008, Disney launched Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that uses media and live events to spotlight women leaders build a culture of peace. Disney is the founder and president.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

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."[26]

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.[27]

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.[28][29]

In July 2019, Abigail Disney criticized working conditions at Disneyland after a meeting with employees at their union office.[30][31]

Criticism of corporate compensation[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.[32] 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."[33] 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."[32] 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.[34] Disney herself has a net worth of $120 million.[5][35] Again turning to Twitter in 2020, Disney publicly criticized the corporation for furloughing hundreds of thousands of low paid workers during the coronavirus pandemic.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Disney married Pierre Norman Hauser in 1988.[37] She lives in New York City and has four children.[38]


As executive producer
As producer
As writer
  • Women, War & Peace: Peace Unveiled (2011)[39]
  • The Armor of Light (2015)
As director
  • The Armor of Light (2015)

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. ^ {{|url = https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4506722/%7Cwebsite = IMDB|access-date = February 26, 2021}}
  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. ^ UCR Newsroom: Award-winning Filmmaker to Speak at UCR. Newsroom.ucr.edu (April 27, 2011). Retrieved on March 28, 2012.
  7. ^ Abigail Disney Isn't Interested In Cinderella Stories. Forbes.com (August 19, 2010). Retrieved on March 28, 2012.
  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. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "About". Fork Films. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Women, War and Peace". PBS. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "February 18-21, 2016 New York City". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  19. ^ "About |". Trialsofspring.com. December 11, 2014. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  20. ^ "The armor of light". THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  21. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (January 13, 2018). "Abigail Disney, Killer Content Partner to Launch Female-Led Level Forward Studio". Variety. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  22. ^ "About". Daphne Foundation. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  23. ^ "Our Team". Peace is Loud. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  24. ^ "Women Peacebuilders in the DRC – Nobel Women's Initiative". Nobelwomensinitiative.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Disney heir renounces profits from Ahava", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "WomenCrossDMZ Peace Walk 2015". Womencrossdmz.org. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  28. ^ Hirsch, Lauren (January 22, 2020). "Patriotic Millionaires' letter to Davos calls for 'higher and fairer' taxes on the global elite". CNBC.
  29. ^ "Miljonairs pleiten in Davos voor hogere belastingen". January 22, 2020.
  30. ^ Liao, Shannon (July 17, 2019). "Abigail Disney visited Disneyland. She is 'livid' about what she saw". CNN Business.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ a b Valinsky, Jordan (April 22, 2019). "Roy Disney's granddaughter thinks Bob Iger's paycheck is 'insane'". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  33. ^ Disis, Jill (March 7, 2019). "Disney shareholders narrowly approve CEO Bob Iger's pay package". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  34. ^ Disney, Abigail (April 23, 2019). "It's time to call out my family's company". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Business, Jordan Valinsky, CNN. "Abigail Disney on Disney furloughs: 'What the actual f---'?". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  37. ^ "Abigail Disney, Ph.D Candidate, Weds Pierre Norman Hauser 2d at Columbia". NYTimes.com. October 9, 1988. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  38. ^ "NPA 5th Birthday with Abigail Disney". Nationalpeaceacademy.us. March 4, 2014. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  39. ^ "Credits for Peace Unveiled". PBS. October 7, 2011. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017.
  40. ^ "Women's Image Network Announces Abigail Disney Woman of the Year Honoree | PRLog". www.prlog.org. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  41. ^ "Abigail Disney, Irena Medavoy Honored at Women's Image Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  42. ^ [2] Archived October 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ "Intl. Women's Media Foundation Honors Disney, Deutsch". EDGE Media Network. Retrieved October 21, 2015.

External links[edit]