Ayo Davis, who most recently served as the EVP, creative development and strategy at Disney Branded Television, has been promoted to president by Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment. In her new role, Davis will take on the creative and operational leadership of the content group, which helps fuel the Disney Plus streaming platform and Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior linear networks with content geared toward kids, tweens, teens and families. Davis will work closely with Gary Marsh to facilitate the transition, as he exits the president position and begins his new pursuit heading a production company focused on developing programming for DGE. Davis will report to Rice.
“Ayo is a focused leader with impeccable creative instincts who’s excelled in every role she’s held at Disney,” said Rice in a statement. “Her creative eye for talent has made meaningful impact in front of and behind the camera, from iconic shows across our networks that were defined by their casting choices to building a roster of creator talent that will redefine family programming at Disney Branded Television. She’s the absolute perfect person to lead the team at a time they are broadening their remit to develop more family programming across streaming and cable distribution. I’m excited to watch all she will accomplish.”
“I am beyond grateful to Peter Rice and Gary Marsh for their extraordinary leadership, support and mentorship,” added Davis. “It’s a tremendous honor to continue Gary’s legacy of delighting kids and families through Disney Branded TV’s unparalleled storytelling, and it’s an amazing time for kids and family programming. I’m thrilled to continue working with my team, colleagues, our TV studios and, of course, the creators who trust us with their projects as we work to develop the next generation of beloved stories and franchises.”
In her previous role at the content group, Davis has cultivated partnerships with talent and attracted high-auspice projects such as Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street Productions to Janae Marks’ critically acclaimed book “From the Desk of Zoe Washington,” and Eva Longoria and Ben Spector’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment to Carlos Hernandez’s “Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.”
“I’ve had the pleasure to be a member of the Disney family – both in front of and behind the camera – for most of my career. Throughout the years, it has been one of my greatest joys watching as Ayo has grown with the company and fiercely championed diverse faces and voices, many of whose stories are now beloved in millions of homes worldwide,” Longoria told Variety. “I am thrilled to watch her thrive in this much-deserved role leading Disney Brand Television and look forward to continuing our partnership in pushing for storytelling to accurately reflect what our world looks like.”
For the past two decades, Davis has worked in multiple roles on the creative side of television at Disney. When she was EVP, talent and casting at ABC Entertainment and Disney Plus, she had an integral role in many acclaimed series, including ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” “American Crime,” “How to Get Away With Murder” and “black-ish.” She also championed the careers of actors such as Longoria, as well as Viola Davis, Jesse Williams and Gina Rodriguez, and launched ABC Discovers, a collection of casting initiatives that aims to discover and nurture up-and-coming talent. Alumni of the program include Lupita Nyong’o and Pedro Pascal. In addition, Davis is responsible for helping to bring in “House of Secrets” from Academy Award-nominated “Harry Potter” filmmaker Chris Columbus, which is in the works as a book-to-screen series adaptation for Disney Plus.
Disney Branded Television is behind Disney-branded TV series, movies and other programming in both scripted and unscripted formats such as: “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “Monsters at Work,” “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” “Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends,” “Doc McStuffins,” “The Owl House,” “Big City Greens,” “Elena of Avalor,” plus the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) franchise, comprised of more than 100 titles.
The Disney Branded Television team that will report to Davis includes: Vicki Ariyasu, SVP, education, diversity, equity & inclusion; Marc Buhaj, VP, unscripted series and specials; Mae Cromwell, chief of staff; Joseph D’Ambrosia, SVP, original programming, and GM, Disney Junior; Kelly Fountaine, manager, culture initiatives; Theresa Helmer, executive director, integrated content strategy; Susette Hsiung, EVP, production management and operations; Jayanta Jenkins, head of marketing; Lauren Kisilevsky, SVP, original movies; Meredith Roberts, SVP/GM, TV animation; Adina Savin, EVP, business affairs; Reena Singh, SVP, development and current series; Judy Taylor, SVP, casting and talent relations; and business leads for corporate communications, HR, legal and finance.