2015 Most Fascinating Disney People

Viola Davis

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER - "What Did We Do?" - ADA Sinclair discovers a break in her favor in the Hapstall case, but her actions result in a deadly outcome as details are revealed about the night Annalise was shot, including the person responsible for pulling the trigger, on the winter finale of "How to Get Away with Murder," THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Mitchell Haaseth) VIOLA DAVIS

It is hard for a broadcast network to win an Emmy Award. Cable, premium channels, and streaming services seem to have a lock on bringing home trophies with their less restricted forms of storytelling. So when an actress on an ABC show wins an Emmy, we notice. Viola Davis did just that with her portrayal of Professor Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder.

Why would an Oscar-nominated actress do television? According to Davis, ““I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show. It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show.” Of course, I am sure there was appeal to work with mega-producer Shonda Rhimes who owns one whole night of ABC’s programming under the “TGIT” branding.

Of course, Davis is not done with film. Her desire to still produce film projects limits the series to 16 episode seasons, short of the typical 22. The longer summer hiatus allows her to still act in a film. One of the projects that she filmed during her break? Suicide Squad, which is part of DC’s cinematic universe and a competitor to Disney’s Marvel juggernaut.

Christine McCarthy

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Not many Disney fans are probably familiar with Ms. McCarthy, but as Disney’s new Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, they should. Perhaps it is due to her just beginning to become a public face for the company, but by all accounts she is an extremely qualified CFO, though in her early life one would think she would be more suited for Epcot’s Land Pavilion than the top floors of Team Disney.

McCarthy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences at Smith College, where she received an award for excellence in botany, but went on to earn her MBA from UCLA. She joined Disney as Treasurer in 2000, a role that has great power but generally flies below the radar as the CFO takes all the glory. Since being named CFO she has led efforts to recapitalize Disneyland Paris so it can continue the park’s enhancements and maintenance efforts. McCarthy also has led the shareholder capitalization and project financing of Shanghai Disneyland.

But perhaps as impressive as her Disney credits, is Christine’s extracurricular activities. Christine is also a Trustee of the Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, Calif., and a mentor for the National Math and Science Initiative’s STEM program. She was a former board member of the Phoenix House California and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and served as both the Treasurer and a Director of the Alumnae Association of Smith College, as well as a member of the Smith College Investment Committee. She has been named multiple times to Treasury & Risk magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in Finance” and in June 2015 was named Treasury Today magazine’s Woman of the Year, one of the profession’s most highly regarded benchmarks. Christine McCarthy will become the face of Disney to the investment community. She has to convince them that all the money Disney spends on all of their creative endeavors will pay dividends in the future. It appears Ms. McCarthy seems up to the task.

Don Hall


Don Hall is a Disney veteran, having worked on films such as Tarzan, Brother Bear and even Home on the Range. But when Disney Animation’s leadership was shaken up after the Pixar acquisition, Hall’s contributions have been more pronounced. He even became a director for the first time on the under-appreciated 2011 Winnie-the-Pooh film with Stephen J. Anderson.

But it is following Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment that Don was able to combine two of his loves. Looking for a Marvel story that he could tell through the magic of Disney Animation, Hall came across an obscure 1998 super hero team. Due to the team’s obscurity within the Marvel Universe, Hall was empowered to bring Disney’s own DNA into the story. In fact, many members of the story team never even read the comic that the film was based upon.

A key decision was made by Hall and his team to not set Big Hero 6 inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe with all of its restrictions and reality-based explanations. This empowered Hall to create the fictional world of San Fransokyo whose dynamic look plays a key part of the film’s charm. While there are still ties to the world of Marvel from Stan Lee and after-credit tags, this combination of Marvel and Disney’s DNA is the first time anything of this sort was attempted.

Hall’s efforts paid off. With an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score and over $220 million in domestic gross, Big Hero 6 was an unqualified success. This February, Hall received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature along with his collaborators Chris Williams and Ron Conli.

What’s next for Mr. Hall? First was a long deserved vacation. Who knows what his next project will be, but many fans are hoping that it will be a sequel to Big Hero 6.

That’s our list. Be sure to check back to see who our Disney person of the year will be. Any guesses?

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