Starting her new role on June 8, she will oversee strategic planning, brand development, content strategy, original programming, production, scheduling, finance, research, marketing and communications for Disney’s young adult cable network, reporting to Dana Walden, chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. Duncan succeeds Tom Ascheim who exited last month for a job at Warner Bros.
Duncan comes from within the Disney family. Just last month, she struck an overall producing deal with Disney-controlled Hulu, setting up an adaptation of Zakiya Dalila Harris’ acclaimed novel The Other Black Girl at the streamer after a highly competitive bidding war for the project, which Duncan won with Temple Hill Entertainment. Freeform and Hulu have a close relationship, with the streamer serving as a digital distribution platform for the millennial-focused network’s programming.
“Tara is an exceptionally skilled executive and a seasoned producer who is bringing a wealth of experience, across linear channels and streaming platforms, to her new role,” said Walden. “Her background, great taste and reputation make her the perfect choice to lead Freeform and its original programming that entertains viewers across its linear channel and distribution on Hulu. Tara and I met for the first time a little over a year ago, and I was truly taken with her vision and understanding of the creative process. Getting her inside of Walt Disney Television has been a priority and I am thrilled she will be leading the formidable Freeform team.”
Duncan, who launched tetraVision, a film and television production company, ahead of making a deal at Hulu, left Netflix in 2018, where she was a senior creative executive. At the streamer, she oversaw hit series Orange Is the New Black and Narcos and launched series with directors Spike Lee, Baz Luhrmann, The Wachowskis and Justin Simien. Prior to that, Duncan produced the pilot for Bosch, Amazon’s first drama series, and was a key creative executive at AMC, where she developed The Killing, Rubicon, and the sci-fi miniseries The Prisoner.
Duncan is a founding member of Who’s In The Room, an executive mentorship program for Time’s Up. She began her career at George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh’s production company, Section Eight, where she worked on the HBO series Unscripted and film Good Night, And Good Luck.
“The programming on Freeform makes me think, laugh and feel good at a time when being optimistic matters most,” said Duncan. “It is incredibly exciting to join the Freeform team and continue forging a path for fun, daring storytelling. I am especially grateful for Dana Walden’s leadership and Craig Erwich’s guidance, as well as Bea Springborn and a host of mentors and friends who have nurtured me to this next chapter in my career.”
For the 2019-20 broadcast season, Freeform ranked as No. 2 prime-time cable entertainment network among Women 18-34. Its lineup includes the No. 1 live-action comedy for young women, grown-ish.