Disney Dreamers Academy

Rising TV Star Dara Reneé, ‘Shark Tank’ Investor Daymond John, Hollywood Veteran Lance Gross and Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross Among the Celebrities Participating in Disney Dreamers Academy


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (April 1, 2024) – TV stars Daymond John, Dara Reneé, Lance Gross and Sanya Richards-Ross are among the celebrities lending their support to the 100 students taking part in the 17th annual Disney Dreamers Academy (April 3-7) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

These celebrities will be joined by well-known DJ Big Tigger and national radio host Rickey Smiley, plus several acclaimed educators, designers, producers and Disney executives, who will spend five days helping the students to dream big. Additionally, several sponsors, such as Sprite®, AT&T and Delta Air Lines, have joined this year to further drive the program’s mission of broadening career awareness and creating exclusive enrichment opportunities for these high school students from diverse and underrepresented communities around the country.

In addition to being a popular figure on the hit ABC TV series “Shark Tank,” John is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and investor who is well-known for launching the successful clothing line FUBU. Gross, an actor and model, had a career-defining lead role in the Tyler Perry hit show “House of Payne.” And Richards-Ross is a four-time Olympic gold medal track star who successfully made the leap from the track to a recurring role on the reality TV series “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Reneé, best known for playing Kourtney in the Disney+ Original series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” will serve as the program’s “DREAMbassador” where she will be a mentor and advocate for the students. Reneé will share personal insights, drawing from her own journey of chasing her dreams of becoming a multi-faceted artist on stage and screen as an actor, singer and dancer. She has already appeared in various on-screen roles, including ABC’s “Black-ish,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is set to star in the upcoming Disney Original movie “Descendants: The Rise of Red,” streaming this summer on Disney+.

“There are few things that I’m more passionate about than nurturing the lives of young people, especially talented ones who just need a little inspiration,” said Reneé. “Being the DREAMbassador for Disney Dreamers Academy this year is the perfect way for me to help engage with these young minds and hopefully offer them the guidance and spark they need to blow open the doors to their career dreams.’’

Other noted speakers participating in the event this year include:

· Big Tigger, a DJ, rapper, TV and radio personality, best known as the host of BET’s “Rap City” and “106 & Park.” He currently hosts “The Big Tigger Morning Show” on WVEE in Atlanta

· Rickey Smiley, a comedian and radio and TV personality best known as the host of the nationally syndicated radio show “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show”

· Dr. Johnnetta Cole, an anthropologist, educator, author, museum director and the first Black female president of Spelman College

· Nikkolas Smith, a contemporary artist, illustrator, author, activist and former Walt Disney Imagineer, who has illustrated movies, including “Black Panther,” “Black Panther 2” and “Space Jam 2”

· Lyn Sisson-Talbert, an accomplished Hollywood producer on various projects, including Netflix’s first original live-action musical “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”

· Jérôme LaMaar, a fashion designer, whose work was part of Beyonce’s “Black is King” film on Disney+

· Samara Cyn, an emerging musical artist who is gaining popularity with her unique sound that fuses neo-soul and hip-hop

These celebrities are part of a wide-ranging lineup of noted professionals who will guide the students through various immersive workshops that align with their dreams. These workshops introduce Disney Dreamers to diverse career paths in business, entertainment and science, and the many other career opportunities within The Walt Disney Company.

Each year, the Disney Dreamers are selected from thousands of applicants who answer essay questions about their personal stories and dreams for the future. The students and a parent or guardian enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the event. The program is an integral part of Disney’s commitment to supporting diverse communities by encouraging the next generation to think and dream big.

Since 2008, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired more than 1,600 students from across the country by fueling their dreams and showing them a world of possibilities as they prepare for their futures. In the years following, graduates have become storytellers, artists, engineers, innovators, journalists, and more, and some have even become mentors to the Disney Dreamers who follow them.

For more information, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available at Facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy and Instagram.com/disneydreamersacademy.

# # #

About Disney Dreamers Academy:

Established in 2008 at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Dreamers Academy was created to inspire young leaders to dream beyond imagination by providing extensive access to personalized support for the Disney Dreamers, their caregivers and their community through insightful content and uplifting experts, mentors and sponsors. Each year, 100 high school students are awarded a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida to experience the immersive and transformational program.