You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dana Walden on Female Leadership: ‘We’ve Come Such a Long Way’

Disney-ABC executive Dana Walden talked about the importance of being a role model for young women and her commitment to helping fund cancer research Friday at Variety’s Power of Women event presented by Lifetime.

The chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment was recognized for her fundraising work with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was introduced by Ryan Murphy, who thanked the executive for her support both in his television career and when his son Ford faced a serious health challenge.

“Dana has the best intel on the best doctors,” Murphy said. “Ford had neuroblastoma and the doctor said this was bad. The first person I called was Dana,” Murphy recounted, describing how Walden sprung into action to help the family get the best care, “I’m so proud to proclaim he’s cancer-free.”

“That story made me a little emotional,” Walden said, taking the podium. “Ryan has done more for women in the business than anyone I know. He’s a relentless advocate for equality.”

Walden then described how she became involved with the Jonsson Cancer Center after her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“For me that call came 11 years ago. My wonderful mother Sheril was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was 71 years old and that day was just so awful.”

Walden recounted the poor impression the family got from her mother’s first doctor, who said, “He said he was going to hit the cancer with a mallet.”

“We needed to get a second opinion,” Walden related, “and I was connected to someone who was truly extraordinary, Dr. Judy Gasson…the first woman to run a major U.S. cancer research center.”

“A lot of us here have high-pressured jobs,” Walden said. “When I feel very stressed out, I like to remind myself that I am not curing cancer or saving lives, even though I think we’re making some really good TV shows.” But the UCLA doctors at the Jonsson Center “are curing cancer and saving lives.”

“My mother was treated at UCLA…it did put her into remission,” she said, describing the breakthroughs in targeted therapies developed in UCLA labs. “The progress they are making is breathtaking.”

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance to young women how important it is to see female leaders,” Walden said of Dr. Gasson.

“I know how much it meant to me to see female leaders as I was coming up in the business. There weren’t a lot of them – which placed greater burden and responsibility on the few. But for them, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

“Today there are female leaders throughout all the big media companies. I’m especially proud to look out and see four female presidents, working with me inside of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. We’ve come such a long way and we have so much positive momentum. I feel just as confident that a woman will have my job one day as, perhaps, a man.”

“I’ve been supported and elevated by male bosses throughout my career who have mentored me and appreciate the role of equality,” Walden finished, giving a shoutout to Walt Disney Television chair Peter Rice.

The other Power of Women honorees recognized Friday are Jennifer Aniston, Awkwafina, Mariah Carey, Brie Larson and Chaka Khan.

More TV

  • MSNBC Adds Joshua Johnson to Anchor

    MSNBC Adds Joshua Johnson to Anchor Ranks

    Joshua Johnson, a longtime public-radio host, is joining MSNBC as an anchor, and the network is expected to release the details of the program he will lead at a later date. Johnson is known for hosting the NPR program “1A,” and will continue to do so through December 20. The program, produced by Washington D.C.’s [...]

  • Commercials Ads Streaming Illustration Placeholder

    Banner Ads Bother. Pop-Ups Annoy. Streaming Wars Aim to Revive Them

    TV’s newest commercials are starting to look an awful lot like the web’s oldest. Any user of Amazon’s Fire set-top device might have recently stumbled upon an interactive on-screen graphic from Geico, the insurance company known for its heavy use of TV ads. In just 15 minutes, the company likes to claim, it can save [...]

  • THE NEIGHBORHOOD stars Cedric the Entertainer

    TV Ratings: 'The Neighborhood' Climbs to Season High on CBS

    “The Neighborhood” hit a season high in last night’s TV ratings, as NBC narrowly topped ABC in the overall network rankings. The CBS comedy series rose to a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 and was watched by around 6.5 million total viewers, comfortably beating its previous season 2 high of 5.9 million. The good news [...]

  • New AVOD Service W4Free Launches in

    U.K. AVOD Service W4Free Launches, With Sky Handling Ad Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A new player has joined the streaming fray in the U.K., with Video Solutions launching new ad-supported service W4Free and Comcast-owned Sky on board to handle its advertising sales. W4Free’s British rollout follows that of a sister service, Watch4, in German-speaking markets, and comes as the likes of Pluto and Tubi have been in the [...]

  • Friends Final Episode Streaming Wars

    'Friends' Props, Costumes to Be Auctioned Off for LGBTQ Charity

    Fans of “Friends” can own a piece of the sitcom — with more than 100 props, costumes, replicas and other items to go up for auction online for the first time next month. Proceeds from the auction, timed for the popular series’ 25th anniversary, will benefit The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention [...]

  • The Mandalorian Disney +

    Could Disney Plus Reach 60 Million-90 Million Subscribers Earlier Than Expected?

    There’s no doubt about Disney’s desire to make an impression on the market with direct-to-consumer service Disney Plus, trumpeting 10 million subscribers just a day after its Nov. 12 launch. That’s more than HBO Now’s 8 million lifetime subs, not to mention CBS All Access and Showtime OTT’s 8 million subs combined. Wall Street sent [...]

  • Daisy Haggard as Miri in BACK

    'Back to Life' Renewed for Season 2 at Showtime

    Showtime has handed a second season order to “Back to Life,” only nine days after the limited comedy series debuted in the U.S. “Back to Life” was created and written by Daisy Haggard and Laura Solon, with Haggard starring as Miri Matteson who, after 18 years behind bars, returns home and stumbles back into adult [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content