Black Excellence: Kareem Daniel Moves From Disney’s Former Intern To Leader Of New Media & Entertainment Division

by Duke Magazine

Growing as a kid, Kareem Daniel did see Walt Disney as a place where “dreams come true.” Now, he gets to live out those dreams in one of the top positions at the world’s biggest entertainment company.

Earlier this week, Walt Disney Co. revealed plans to reorganize the company and its newly created Media and Entertainment division to focus efforts on developing and producing original content for the company’s streaming services and legacy platforms. They also revealed the new plans will be led by Daniel as chairman of the new group, according to Deadline.

The Chicago native will oversee pricing, marketing, and how consumers connect with streaming platform, Disney+ in his newly-appointed position as the company shifts gears to focus on streamlining more content.

Daniel, a 14-year Disney veteran and former president of consumer products, games, and publishing, owes his company rise to Disney’s new chief executive officer, Bob Chapek, who shares that he first hired him as an intern years ago as a graduate student.

“He is a brilliant executive who has an unbelievable objectivity when it comes to fact-based decision making,” Chapek said in an interview with Bloomberg. “It perfectly positions him to be the right guy to make decisions. Not because there is a legacy of the business, but because it’s right for today.”

In his statement, Daniel expressed his excitement for his new role stating: “I’m honored to be able to lead this new organization during such a pivotal and exciting time for our company, and I’m grateful to [Chapek] for giving me the opportunity.”

Bloomberg shared that after attending Stanford University, Daniel worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for three years before joining Disney’s strategic planning team in 2007.

He served as senior vice president of strategy and business development for Disney consumer products and interactive media as well as vice president of distribution strategy at Walt Disney Studios.

In 2017, he then took over Imagineers, the theme-park designers who create Disney’s fantastical rides and attractions, where Disney introduced twin Star Wars-themed lands in California and Florida.

Daniel also helped supervise construction of a Marvel-themed land slated to open in California as well as Disney’s deal with Marvel, which helped the comic-book studio birth the world’s most successful movie franchise.

“A highlight of my career was being a member of the team that worked on the acquisition of Marvel in 2009 and being able to tell my mom about it and better explain what I did for a living,” he told Morgan Park Academy in an interview.

In his 14-year tenure, Daniel has emerged as one of the most promising Black executives at Disney, whose senior leadership team is mainly comprised of White men. He’s now the first Black person to be a division head reporting directly to the chief executive at Disney.

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