Disney Awards Team Adds René Ridinger, Nikki Adler; Samy Gaballa Tapped for New Creative Arts Director Role

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Disney has changed its awards team and structure and added new team members to its ranks.

New to the team is René Ridinger, who will lead the team as V.P. of awards and Nikki Adler as director of awards. In addition, Samy Gaballa, a 20-year Disney veteran, will take on the newly created role of creative arts director, spearheading all awards-related creative.

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The new awards team encompasses publicity, creativity, and media. It will handle film and episodic content across all labels in Disney Studios content, including Disney Live Action, Disney Animation, Pixar Animation, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios (except for Searchlight Pictures, which remains in-house at Searchlight). The team falls under Michelle Sewell, executive vice president of global publicity, and is part of the marketing team led by Asad Ayaz, president of marketing.

Ridinger is a seasoned film and TV PR and awards executive, who will focus on strategy and talent relations, working closely with internal executives and marketing and publicity teams. Most recently, Ridinger led documentary publicity at Netflix, where she was responsible for the company’s documentary initiative strategies and oversaw campaigns for the Oscar-winning “My Octopus Teacher” and “American Factory,” along with acclaimed films and series such as “Crip Camp,” “Dick Johnson is Dead,” and “Tiger King.” She also worked closely with talent on Netflix deals, including Shondaland, the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions, Ryan Murphy Productions and David Fincher. Before Netflix, Ridinger spent two decades as an agency publicist, where she gained a broad view of strategic campaigns across films and series, including unit publicity, festival launches, release campaigns and awards.

Adler recently joined the team from Strategy PR and will oversee awards publicity, guild, and event strategy. At Strategy PR, Adler led campaigns for studio clients including Disney Studios Content, Amazon Studios, Focus Features, Hulu, Apple TV+ and Sony Pictures on titles such as “West Side Story” and the best picture winner “CODA.”

Ridinger and Gaballa officially start on July 18, and Adler joined in June.

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