Davis, most recently Head of Talent and Casting for ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios, will continue to oversee casting for the broadcast network while also adding oversight of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment, working closely with the Disney+ team across all scripted and unscripted content. She will report to ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke.
Following the completion of the Disney-Fox deal, ABC Studios became part of a combined Disney Television Studios unit whose casting is widely expected to be overseen by longtime 20th Century Fox TV head of casting Sharon Klein.
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Davis is the first senior Disney entertainment TV executive to get crossover duties since Disney’s Bob Iger realigned the company last year, putting Direct-to-Consumer and International in a distribution unit under Kevin Mayer, separate from content. Peter Rice oversees all entertainment and news TV properties for the combined Disney-Fox assets, including all production.
Davis’ promotion is part of a new contract she recently negotiated with Disney. Over the past year, she had been courted for high-profile jobs by other big media companies.
“Ayo has an unbeatable track record of discovering new talent and attracting the industry’s most skilled and accomplished artists,” said Burke. “We are excited to have her continue to lead our casting team and its initiatives, with added responsibilities at Disney+ as the Company launches this vital new area of business.”
A 16-year ABC Casting veteran, Davis was named head of Talent and Casting for the studio and network in 2016 after holding the post on an interim basis for six months. She has been instrumental in casting such signature ABC series as The Good Doctor; the Emmy-winning American Crime, Peabody-winning black-ish and How to Get Away with Murder, for which Viola Davis became the first African American actress to win Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy. She has championed the careers of Eva Longoria, Jesse Williams and Gina Rodriguez, among others.
Prior to being named head of Talent and Casting for the studio, Davis was SVP, Talent and Casting, ABC Entertainment Group. In that role, she oversaw all scripted prime-time casting for the ABC network. Additionally, she helped to lead the implementation and launch of the ABC Discovers Initiative, which includes several programs aimed at finding and nurturing up-and-coming talent from around the world.
Davis joined ABC Casting more than 16 years ago, overseeing such pilots as the Emmy Award-winning series Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy.