Disney Celebrates the ‘Power of Joy’ at the 2023 Essence Festival of Culture™ in New Orleans

Talent From Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion,’ ‘Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,’ ‘Star Wars: Ahsoka,’ ABC’s ‘Abbott Elementary,’ Onyx Collective’s ‘Searching For Soul Food,’ ABC News and More Are Set To Take the Stage, With Hulu Serving as the Official Streaming Destination for ‘ESSENCE Fest Primetime

As the major entertainment sponsor of the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ from June 29 to July 3, Disney (NYSE: DIS) returns to showcase its content and talent, celebrating the “Power of Joy” through one-of-a-kind panels, special performances, meet and greets with characters, exclusive screenings, and giveaways.

Hulu will once again serve as the official streaming destination for “ESSENCE Fest Primetime.” All Hulu subscribers will have the opportunity to join the celebration and catch exclusive virtual-only content and highlights from daytime experiences, as well as epic live performances from Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Megan Thee Stallion and many more in the Super Dome. “ESSENCE Fest Primetime” will livestream on Hulu Friday, June 30, through Sunday, July 2, from 7:00 p.m.–11:59 p.m. CT. This year’s ESSENCE Fest Primetime is sponsored by Target.

Drawing more than 1.9 million in-person and virtual attendees last year, ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ is the largest annual gathering of people in the country. For more than a decade, Disney has sponsored ESSENCE Fest.

“Disney is proud to return to the ESSENCE Festival of Culture as a major sponsor and showcase the magic happening across our brands,” said Jill Estorino, president and managing director of Disney Parks International. “Through culture-defining storytelling, unforgettable experiences, and more, we are inviting everyone to experience first-hand ‘The Power of Joy’ and the many ways creativity, innovation, and contributions from Black culture are reflected across Disney.”

Offerings at this year’s festival will include the following:

  • Studio Showcase: “Haunted Mansion” director Justin Simien is joined by cast members LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish and Rosario Dawson to kick off the festival on Friday with an influencer brunch at the Grand Oaks Mansion at River City Venues. The cast will take part in events and panels on Saturday and Sunday that also include special looks at the new Disney+ series “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming musical feature “Wish,” starring Ariana DeBose.
  • Disney’s “Came to Play” Booth: All weekend, festival attendees will have the chance to enter the world of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in the convention center. The space will include surprise character appearances, fun photo opportunities, giveaways and more. Inside the booth, festivalgoers can also enjoy an immersive shopping experience featuring the latest products and books–from Black licensees and authors—available in our parks, stores and on shopDisney.com.
  • Film Festival: Festival attendees can also check out the ESSENCE Film Festival to catch panels and screenings with filmmakers and talent from shows, movies, documentaries and podcasts across the company, including ABC’s Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph of “Abbott Elementary,” Charity Lawson of the “The Bachelorette,” Chandra Wilson of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Gabourey Sidibe of “The Prank Panel” and Saycon Sengbloh of “The Wonder Years”; Disney Branded Television’s “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur”; National Geographic’s “Critter Fixers: Country Vets” and “Never Say Never with Jeff Jenkins”; 20th Television’s “THE CHI”; Lexi Underwood from Freeform’s “Cruel Summer”; Ashleigh Murray and Sinclair Daniel along with executive producer and author Zakiya Dalila Harris of the upcoming Hulu series “The Other Black Girl.”
  • ESSENCE Stage: ESSENCE stage activations include a special fashion show celebrating 100 years of Disney and inspired by 50 years of hip-hop taking place on Friday, July 29. Throughout the weekend, Disney will host panels featuring Disney creators and collaborators from across the company. Panels and special moments include a Q&A session on Disney vacations across the globe, a Celebrate Soulfully Parks showcase that highlights the experiences of black culture and heritage at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, the long-standing career mentorship program for black students, Disney Dreamers Academy, will host panel discussion, special performances and more. On Saturday, July 1, Hulu will showcase its “Black Stories Always” initiative, a year-round commitment to authentic representation both in front of and behind the camera. This one-hour programming block will include three inspiring panels featuring representatives from Hulu and Onyx Collective content and conversations surrounding Black storytelling and experiences of every facet, color, and shade of Blackness.
  • Black Authors: Book lovers can check out authors R.K. Russell (“The Yards Between Us”) and Marisa Moore (“The Plant Love Kitchen”) on the Black Storytelling panel moderated by the executive editor of Andscape Books, Aliya King Neil, and attend a book signing immediately following the panel. Disney Publishing Worldwide will also be celebrating titles by several authors in addition to Russell and Moore in the Disney Retail Showroom, including ABC News’ Deborah Roberts’ “Lessons Learned and Cherished” and Tre’vell Anderson’s “We See Each Other. Books for audience giveaways will be shared with fans throughout the weekend.
  • ABC News and Owned Television Stations: ABC News’ Janai Norman, co-anchor of the “Good Morning America” Saturday and Sunday broadcasts, will anchor Saturday from the Convention Center, plus join ESSENCE Stage later in the day as host and panel moderator. New York’s WABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News anchor Sade Baderinwa and Los Angeles’ ABC7 anchor Rachel Brown will also moderate panels and report from the festival. ABC Owned Television Stations, in partnership with Microsoft Philanthropy, will offer an exclusive preview of the new Our America series “In The Black,” focusing on financial empowerment with actress Phylicia Rashad.
  • Executive Panels: Disney will host a series of panels at the Global Black Economic Village and across the festival, featuring executives sharing their personal and professional insights as leaders and role models at Disney. Attendees are invited to curated conversations and panels on sisterhood in the workplace, supporting supplier diversity, and investing in Black businesses and communities.

For more, please visit here and follow on all social platforms with #DisneyxEssence.

About The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise that includes three core business segments: Disney Entertainment, ESPN, and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $82.7 billion in its Fiscal Year 2022.


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