Brenda Kelly-Grant has been named SVP, Casting and Talent Relations, Disney Branded Television. She will succeed Judy Taylor, who will retire at the end of the year after a career that has spanned nearly half a century.
For 24 years, Taylor has led casting and talent at Disney Channel. She was responsible for launching the careers of some of Hollywood’s most popular young stars including Miley Cyrus for Hannah Montana, Zac Efron, Ashley Tisdale and Vanessa Hudgens for High School Musical, Zendaya for KC Undercover and Olivia Rodrigo for Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
“We’re fortunate to have the benefit of two outstanding Casting executives as the baton is passed,” said Ayo Davis, president, Disney Branded Television, in making the announcement. “Judy has made enormous contributions to Disney, and her expertise and leadership have been invaluable throughout the years. She’s been an important and joyful part of my tenure here, and our entire team will miss her and wishes her the very best.”
An industry veteran, Taylor also cast blockbuster feature films including Indiana Jones and Back to the Future, as well as Disney’s Sister Act and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. She began her career as an assistant to casting legends Mike Fenton and Jane Feinberg some 48 years ago.
“There are few people in the annals of our history who have played a more pivotal role in creating the legacy of Disney Channel,” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Branded Television. “Judy just marked her 48th year in Casting — from Goonies and Back to the Future to more than 100 iconic Disney Channel Original Movies and series. She is the best partner a team of creatives could ever dream of, and I know Brenda will continue to build on that partnership.”
Kelly-Grant has an overall 14-year tenure at Disney, most recently serving as VP, Casting, ABC, where she worked under Davis.
In her new role, Kelly-Grant will oversee the casting and talent relations for the unit’s live-action scripted pilots, series and movies on Disney+ and Disney Channels. She’ll also develop and execute strategies for Disney Branded Television talent’s off-air appearances that promote related content and brands.
Reporting to Kelly-Grant are Cornelia Frame, VP, Casting and Talent Relations; Leah Buono, VP, Casting; and Kimberly McCollum, director, Casting, and their respective teams.
“Brenda has a deep appreciation for the talent that brings our stories to life, she’s a wonderful collaborator with the experience and intuition necessary to lead the casting process, and she’s the right person to build on the legacy that Judy created,” Davis said. “I know she’ll inspire the entire team and create the optimal experience for a wide array of acting talent working with us now and in years to come.”
At ABC Casting, Kelly-Grant led the casting process on pilots and series including black-ish, The Middle, Criminal Minds, Nashville and High Fidelity. She led the transformation of the Disney Television Discovers Showcase into a fully produced and filmed original short scene event that showcases emerging talent from underrepresented groups. She also produced ABC Discovers: Digital Competition, an online talent search for aspiring actors in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2019, Kelly-Grant served as the head of Internal Communications and worked across Operations at Amazon Studios. Prior to Amazon Studios, she was the executive director and chief of staff for the office of the president and co-chair of Disney Media Networks and Disney ABC Television Group, and before that, executive director, Communications for Disney Channel.