In November 1984, Walt Disney Television Animation (DTVA) was established to bring high-quality, Disney-branded entertainment to the small screen. Thirty years—and more than 60 series—later, DTVA offers a broad lineup of shows that ranges from Sofia the First and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, whose classic Disney characters entertain and inspire preschoolers via the Disney Junior programming block and channel; to Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls, two series on the Disney XD network that are unequivocal hits among kids and adults alike.
The two executives happily tasked with keeping DTVA a thriving home to creativity are Lisa Salamone, senior vice president of production (a 20-year DTVA veteran), and Eric Coleman, senior vice president, Original Series. “I would say our mantra is ‘Great art comes from great artists,’ so we really focus on getting the best people and creating an environment where they can flourish and they can succeed—and where they can really feel vested in the work they’re doing and feel inspired by what they’re doing,” Eric shares.
DTVA recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in-house with “Re-Animated: The Zombie Art Show,” which invited staffers from roles all around DTVA to submit their own artistic “zombifications” of their favorite DTVA characters. Lisa explains, “I always feel like everybody who’s here, whether you’re in an artistic role or not, you are a creative person, and that’s part of the draw.”
Members of ASIFA (The International Animated Film Society) and D23: The Official Disney Fan Club gathered at The Walt Disney Studios on November 5 to look back at DTVA’s three decades. A panel featuring some of the creative talent behind iconic DTVA shows shared memories that led the audience from the first series, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, to the award-winning Mickey Mouse shorts. Audience members were also treated to clips from upcoming series Star vs. The Forces of Evil and Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero (both debuting in 2015), and a sneak peek at early animation for The Lion Guard, which premieres in 2016.
And on November 13, DTVA staff members took part in another great Disney tradition by joining people from Barack Obama Charter School, area residents and organizers from KaBOOM! to help turn an empty lot into a playground with a design based on drawings created by children themselves. “I can’t think of a more meaningful way to celebrate Disney TV Animation’s 30th anniversary than giving back to the community and specifically to young kids,” Eric said.
Whether inspiring kids with storytelling and memorable characters in their homes or leading them to imaginative, active play outside, DTVA is a leader in family entertainment. “People are here because they know that Disney has an amazing animation legacy, and the shows they’re making are part of that legacy,” Eric states, adding, “I think first and foremost, people just want to be part of a studio that puts the main priority on quality.” Here’s to DTVA’s next 30 years!