HOW I MAKE IT WORK...
Kylie Watson-wheeler mixes Disney with AFL.
When I was growing up, the two things that were closest to my heart and extremely important to me were Disney films and the Western Bulldogs AFL club.
Like many of my generation, I have fond memories of watching The Wonderful World Of Disney with my family on a Sunday night. And I loved Mary Poppins although I never had a nanny – I was quite happy to have my mother at home. Now I’m managing director of The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, running the business across multiple areas. I’ve been there 14 years.
I’ve gone to the football with my dad and sister my whole life, and continue the tradition by taking my own kids now.
In 1989, when the Bulldogs almost ceased to exist due to financial collapse, there was a Save the Bulldogs rally held at Whitten Oval, run by a young lawyer named Peter Gordon. I was in year 12 and asked my dad if I could go. He said, “No, you’re in study week!” I promised I would take my homework with me. I sat on the gravel behind the goals at the rally, where Peter was hosting. He’s now the president of the team’s board, and I serve as his vice. Looking back to that day, I could never have imagined this would be a possibility.
I’m no more exhausted than any other working mum. I have a 14-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter and a 25-year-old stepdaughter. They were of course raised on Disney films. My son is a Marvel boy – he loves The Avengers. And I have enjoyed introducing him to the Star Wars franchise – Princess Leia was on my folder when I was in grade one. My daughter loves Pixar. That humour appeals to her. I think Monsters, Inc. would be her favourite; my husband calls her Boo.
The perception can be that Disney is for young kids and predominantly girls, but we have a far broader reach than that. And with football, it’s amazing: about 40 per cent of a typical footy crowd and close to 50 per cent of engaged fans are female.
In fact, it’s a default to think of my two roles as gendered, but it’s certainly not the reality. I get funny reactions when people hear I’m on an AFL board. Initially, at least, because I definitely am a Disney princess! But I can move between both roles quite seamlessly, more than you’d think. I don’t have to stop and reset. Because at their core, each is an entertainment business – they connect emotionally and build relationships with a broad fan base.