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Lion Forge Entertainment Teams Up with Black Women Animate Studios on 'Iyanu: Child Of Wonder'

Animation is a medium that remains dominated by white men. But there are individuals and companies that are working to change that. Among them are Lion Forge Entertainment, co-producers of the Oscar-winning short Hair Love.

Lion Forge are partnering with Taylor K. Shaw’s Black Women Animate Studios (BWA) to advance their shared mission of fostering diversity and representation both behind and in front of the camera in animation. The first project they will collaborate on is an adaptation of the series Iyanu based on the graphic novels by Roye Okupe. The series will air on Cartoon Network and Max. BWA and Lion Forge's Atlanta-based studio will work together to recruit a diverse pool of talent to fill pivotal pre-production roles on the series.

The partnership is led by Lion Forge Entertainment CEO and founder David Steward II, and aims to further open up access and opportunities to Black and POC animators and to train the next generation of creators and producers.

 “Lion Forge stands for diverse stories, authentically told,” said David Steward II. “BWA is one of the organizations leading the effort to open up this industry to new voices and new creators and we are thrilled to join forces with them to provide under-represented talent with the platform they deserve. Together, we will redefine the boundaries of storytelling and inspire a new generation of diverse voices in animation.”

The partnership strengthens LFE's presence in Atlanta's entertainment hub, reinforcing its reputation at the leading Black-owned studio, celebrated for empowering underrepresented groups for storytelling. The studio recently increased its slate to include live-action as well as animation.

"We are thrilled to embark on this talent pipeline partnership with Lion Forge Animation. We are coming together to hire and train diverse talent for their upcoming series and will continue our efforts through an ongoing equity strategy that will be announced later this year," said Black Women Animate Founder and CEO Taylor K. Shaw.

BWA has a background in original IP production and brings innovative and efficient solutions to design and animation for commercial and long-form entertainment. This production and programming prowess spans across platforms driving equity in the animation industry by hiring Black women, women of colour and non-binary people of colour.

Set against the rich tapestry of Yoruba people of Nigeria’s history and achievements, “Iyanu” is an adaptation of Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios’ popular graphic novel series “Iyanu: Child of Wonder.” The 2D animated series takes place in the magical kingdom of Yorubaland and centers around Iyanu, a teenage orphan girl who studies Yoruba history and ancient arts, but yearns for a normal life. One day, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers, which have not been seen since the Age of Wonders. With newly discovered superpowers, Iyanu joins forces with two other teenagers as they embark on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the evil lurking in her homeland. Throughout her adventure, she’ll uncover the truth about her past, her parents, and her ultimate destiny to save the world.

As announced last summer the writer's room will be headed up by Brandon Easton. Original creator Roye Okupe is serving as executive producer as well as writer and director on multiple episodes. Lion Forge Entertainment's Saxton Moore is supervising director.  Executive producers include LFE's David Steward II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital’s Erica Dupuis, Forefront Media Group’s Ryan Haidarian and Doug Schwalbe.

No release date has been announced for Iyanu: Child Of Wonder.