Dana Walden (born 1964) is an American businesswoman and the Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content.
Early life and education
Dana Freedman was born to a Jewish family in Los Angeles in 1964. Her father was in the travel industry and her mother was a dancer. As a teenager, Walden rode show hunters competitively. She earned a degree in communications from the University of Southern California.
Dana Walden is the chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, overseeing ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, Disney Television Studios (20th Television, ABC Signature, 20th Television Animation and Walt Disney Television Alternative), Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, National Geographic Content and Onyx Collective.
She is responsible for some of the biggest scripted and unscripted hits on television and streaming, and is recognized for being a loyal creative partner for some of the most prolific creators in the business. Throughout her career, she has established early relationships with some of today's most renowned showrunners including Lee Daniels, Ryan Murphy, Liz Meriwether and David E. Kelley, who all remain her collaborators at Walt Disney Television today. Previously, she held the position of chairman of Entertainment for Walt Disney Television, where she oversaw the Disney Television Studios (20th Television, ABC Signature, 20th Television Animation and Walt Disney Television Alternative), the original entertainment slates and content marketing for broadcast network ABC, basic cable channel Freeform, and the Hulu Originals and Onyx Collective brands of programming for streaming platform Hulu.
Under Walden's leadership, ABC has been the No. 1 entertainment network for two consecutive seasons – the first time that has happened in 25 years. Since her arrival at Hulu in 2019, overseeing the platform's signature Original series, the streamer has seen record viewership for its original content including such hits as The Handmaid's Tale, Little Fires Everywhere, Only Murders in the Building and Nine Perfect Strangers. In the three years she has been at The Walt Disney Company, the areas under her oversight have collectively earned 270 Emmy nominations and 29 wins. Walden is now chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment after Disney's $71.3 billion purchase of a bulk of 21st Century Fox.
In 2021, Walden was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business. She has received the National Association of Television Program Executive's Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award and was named MIPCOM's Personality of the Year. In 2013, she was inducted into Broadcasting & Cable's Television Hall of Fame. She has been named Showman of the Year by Variety, Television Showman of the Year by the Publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild, and Executive of the Year in 2019 by The Hollywood Reporter.
Fox Television Group
Walden previously served as chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, which included Fox Broadcasting Company, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox 21 Television Studios, Fox Consumer Products and the syndication supplier, 20th Television. In the four years she oversaw Fox Broadcasting Company, she took the network from fourth place to first.
During her 25 years at 21st Century Fox, the studios overseen by Walden amassed 184 Emmy wins, 29 Golden Globes, 17 Screen Actors Guild Awards and 24 Peabody Awards and Humanitas Prizes. Additionally, Walden was responsible for hit after hit, from the No. 1 broadcast hits, like This Is Us and Empire, to multiple Emmy Award winners Modern Family, Homeland, Ally McBeal, Arrested Development and The Practice. Other landmark series overseen by Walden include 24, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Simpsons, which is the longest-running primetime scripted series of all time. She has also overseen the long and successful partnership between 20th Television and FX and FX Productions, resulting in The Americans, Sons of Anarchy, Pose, American Horror Story and the American Crime Story franchise.
The Walt Disney Company
On June 9, 2022, Walden replaced Peter Rice as Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content. Walden was previously chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television.
Board Positions & Other roles
In addition to her work in storytelling, Walden has been recognized throughout her career for championing women into leadership positions in entertainment and continuing to bring marginalized voices to the table. While at Disney, she installed a largely female leadership across her portfolio. She is also responsible for launching Onyx Collective, an entirely new content brand created to curate a slate of premium content from new and established creators of color.
Walden sits on the board of directors for Live Nation Entertainment, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Saban Free Clinic of Los Angeles. She is also a supporter of the animal rescue organization Best Friends for Animals.