Dana Walden: Hollywood’s Female Powerhouse Poised for Disney’s Throne


From Fox to Hollywood Frontier

In 1994, a rising star named Dana Walden caught the attention of industry magnate Peter Chernin, then president of 20th Century Fox. Little did they know, this encounter would set in motion a potential shift in Disney’s future leadership.

Nearly three decades later, Walden stands as a frontrunner in the race to succeed Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO. With a rich history in TV and entertainment, she brings a unique blend of experience, relationships, and the potential to break a glass ceiling.

Ascendance at Fox Broadcasting

Chernin plucked Walden from Fox’s communications division and propelled her into television. Her sharp judgment and keen eye for talent propelled her rise through the ranks.

In 2014, Walden and fellow TV executive Gary Newman jointly took the helm of Fox Broadcasting. Together, they oversaw a production powerhouse responsible for iconic hits like “24,” “Homeland,” and “This is Us.”

Transition to Disney

In 2017, Disney acquired Fox, and Walden joined the ranks of the entertainment giant. Despite her initial disappointment at not being appointed to the top job at Disney TV, she eventually assumed the position after Peter Rice’s departure.

As Disney Entertainment chair, Walden has overseen a string of successful series, including “The Bear,” “The Dropout,” and “Only Murders in the Building.” She has also invested heavily in children’s programming and family entertainment on Disney+.

Contenders in the Race

Walden is not the only contender vying for the CEO role. She faces competition from fellow Disney executives Josh D’Amaro, Jimmy Pitaro, and Alan Bergman.

Walden as the Anti-Chapek

Walden presents a stark contrast to former CEO Bob Chapek. Chapek, a finance and business-minded executive, struggled to connect with Hollywood’s creative community. Walden, on the other hand, has deep-rooted relationships and a proven track record in TV and entertainment.

If chosen, Walden would symbolize a shift from Chapek’s management style, fostering a closer collaboration with Iger and prioritizing the creative aspects of Disney’s business.

Combating Female Stereotypes

As a potential first-ever female CEO of Disney, Walden faces the challenge of both breaking a glass ceiling and combating persistent stereotypes. She has navigated Hollywood’s male-dominated environment with a combination of diplomacy and demand.

Ultimate Selection

The decision to appoint a successor rests with the Disney board, but Iger’s opinion holds significant weight. His selection will reflect his vision for Disney’s future and the direction of the company’s diverse operations.

Whether it’s the parks, ESPN, or creative content, the Disney board and Iger will need to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and determine who best meets the company’s evolving needs.


Dana Walden’s journey from Fox to the potential helm of Disney is a testament to her talent, determination, and the power of relationships. As the company navigates a rapidly changing media landscape, Walden’s blend of experience and vision could potentially shape the future of one of the world’s most beloved entertainment conglomerates.

Data sourced from: cnbc.com