Disney Television animation vet Elizabeth Waybright Taylor is bringing a passion for creator-driven projects and trying new things to her new role at the House of Mouse.
Waybright Taylor was promoted from executive director to VP of development at the end of 2021, and now heads up the team that manages content for six to 11s. She will take a more holistic approach to Disney’s slate for this demographic in her new role, which should help her craft a consistent creator-driven pipeline of content that focuses on inclusivity and humor. And as the House of Mouse continues shifting priorities to support its streaming business, Waybright Taylor is anticipating more opportunities for experimentation in the future as her team looks to serve both linear and SVOD programming needs.
Before Disney+ came on the scene, Waybright Taylor was largely limited to developing in the traditional 52 x 11-minute format for linear TV. But now that the media company is more platform-agnostic, she’s got the freedom to also create miniseries, shorts and serialized content. This expanded scope has already led to projects like 10-episode miniseries The Ghost and Molly McGee, which premiered on Disney Channel in October; Monsters at Work, a 10-ep serialized show for Disney+; and 2D-animated anthology series The Witchverse.
As she looks to build on these early efforts and shake up Disney’s pipeline even more, Waybright Taylor will rely on lessons she’s learned both in and out of the industry to guide her content compass.
While she has spent most of her career in television (starting in 2004 as a production assistant at Nickelodeon), Waybright Taylor says working in other creative fields has been equally valuable. After her stint at Nick, she sidestepped into the world of wedding invitations and greeting cards, where she got to collaborate with small creative teams and develop her artistic voice. This experience shaped the way she now approaches all projects, teaching her the value of listening to and trusting in a creator’s vision. It’s a lesson she took with her when she joined Disney in 2010 as an executive assistant on the development team.
For Waybright Taylor, the best projects are ones helmed by creators who have clear visions and a personal reason for telling the story they’re telling. It’s also important to highlight diversity so all kids can see characters that are actually like them, she says. That’s the approach that has driven her to shepherd projects such as upcoming series Kiff and Primos.
Natasha Kline (Big City Greens) is the creator and executive producer of Primos, a 2D-animated comedy about a 10-year-old girl trying to figure out what makes her unique after 12 of her cousins move in for the summer. Based on Kline’s own childhood experience living with her extended Mexican American family, the story’s personal roots and the creator’s passion made the show a no-brainer for Disney, says Waybright Taylor. In recent market testing sessions, young girls said they felt the lead character was like them because she was imperfect, anxious, ambitious and opportunistic; Waybright Taylor wants to see these kinds of well-defined and nuanced characters in more pitches going forward.
“I know it can feel like the answer to this question can be kind of a moving target, but I know I can tell you that we’re always looking for unique story tellers, and that the kids in our audience want to laugh, they want to feel seen and understood. They also want to escape and it’s definitely a tall order that challenges us everyday because I think the specifics of this can be built out or dressed up in a hundred different ways in terms of how these shows are executed.”