Last week, we shared how the Disneyland Resort’s Chris Sheppard is helping to grow the next generation of Black leaders at Disney. Today, as we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we introduce you to Carmen Smith, Executive Creative Development and Inclusion Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering, where she leads efforts to help ensure that Disney attractions and experiences are relevant to guests.
A native of New York, Carmen graduated from Hunter College with a degree in communication arts. She earned her Master’s degree in International Administration from New York University, and in 2007 received an Honorary Doctorate from the Metropolitan College of New York. Always curious and fascinated by the world around her, Carmen’s accomplishments and accolades reveal that at heart she is a storyteller. At Disney and ABC, she’s credited as a producer, writer, champion of new talent, leader of creative development and more. Her work is rooted in a passion for the power of inclusion, which has led to numerous achievements recognized by some of the world’s most prestigious organizations – from top media and nonprofits to think tanks and universities.
A firm believer that everyone can play a role in making the world a better place, inclusion has always been an important motivator for her work – something in which she has found great purpose. It has also led her to meet and know some of her heroes, such as Clarence Jones, who notably drafted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. However, she credits her family with inspiring her to follow her dreams. Her mother and father instilled the belief that she could be and do anything as long as she put her mind to it.
Today, she helps cultivate a culture of inclusion and its role as an integral part of the creative process at Walt Disney Imagineering. As part of Imagineering’s longstanding history of enhancing attractions with new magic, she not only seeks to tell stories that are inspiring and enlightening but ones that are relevant and makes all guests feel welcomed.
Among her responsibilities, Carmen, with the support of a team of highly respected cultural advisors from around the world, is involved in development of two upcoming Disney park attractions – the reimagining of Splash Mountain to a theme inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog” and enhancements coming to Jungle Cruise that build on the beloved story of the iconic attraction.
“We create experiences that make people feel welcomed, seen and heard, and let them know that their stories are important,” she shared when we got a chance to speak with her. Watch Carmen share firsthand her experience and the work she’s doing today at Disney:
Stay tuned next week as we share our last cast member feature for the month, Disney Signature Experience’s Tracey Powell, Vice President, Travel Services Pricing & Revenue Management, and follow along on our Disney Parks, Experiences & Products social handles: Instagram: @DisneyParksBlog, Twitter: @DisneyParks, and Facebook: @DisneyParksBlog.