Naomi Osaka & LeBron James's SpringHill Are Starting a Media Company Together
Naomi Osaka, a tennis prodigy, is creating a media venture alongside LeBron James and Maverick Carter's The SpringHill Company.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Osaka and her longtime agent and business partner Stuart Duguid are in charge of the Hana Kuma production company. In May, Osaka and Duguid unveiled their own banner for athlete representation.
Hana Kuma (hana means "flower" and kuma means "bear" in Japanese) "will generate stories that are culturally specific yet universal to all audiences; humorous and courageous in its approach to tackle significant issues of society," the business claims.
According to Osaka, there has been an explosion of people of color who have access to resources and a sizable platform. "Content has a more global perspective in the streaming age. The success of television across Asia, Europe, and Latin America is evidence that something unique may also be widespread. My own experience is evidence of that. I'm quite excited about what Hana Kuma is becoming. To make uncommon viewpoints seem universal and to inspire people along the way, we will bring stories to life.
Additionally, it already has a number of projects in the works, one of which is an Epix-based documentary series for which Osaka, James, and Carter will serve as executive producers.
The first project under the Hana Kuma banner will be MINK!, an upcoming New York Times Op-Doc from director Ben Proudfoot about Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress and the author and sponsor of Title IX, which forbade sex-based discrimination in schools receiving government funding.
Hana Kuma's head of development will be Chavonne LeNoir, who most recently oversaw Vice Media's unscripted division and previously worked at Disney and MGM.
Hana Kuma will receive production, development, and other strategic resources from SpringHill, continuing a strategy of developing a business model "to center athletes as creators" and "to act as an incubator for athletes who want to create and story tell beyond their sport in creative, impactful, and thought-provoking ways," the company says.
In a deal that valued Carter and James' business at $725 million, SpringHill received a fresh amount of funding from Nike, RedBird Capital, and Epic Games last year. Giving SpringHill the funds it required to make investments in fresh artists was a major focus of that financing.
Celebrity-driven production companies have seen a surge in investment in recent years, spearheaded by businesses like SpringHill, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, and Will and Jada Pinkett-Overbrook. Smith's These media firms are sometimes viewed as less risky than many alternatives due to their readiness to sell to any network or streaming service and the high-profile names associated with the projects.