By, Matt Grobar, March 16, 2022 (Deadline)
EXCLUSIVE: David Steward II’s Lion Forge Animation studio, known for its Academy Award winning short Hair Love from director Matthew A. Cherry, has expanded its leadership team while continuing to scale production and development activity in its third year, promoting two-time Emmy-winning animation director Saxton Moore to Vice President of Production, and hiring Neely Shamam to serve as Vice President of Development.
Moore most recently served as Executive Creative Director at Lion Forge and brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role. He’s previously worked with such notable animation and entertainment companies as Netflix, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, FUSEtv and A+E. Shamam is an experienced creative executive who has spent more than 15 years developing, producing, and programming quality content for an array of platforms and networks, previously serving in creative leadership roles at Disney and Maker Studios, Zone TV and Ficto.
“Our incredible growth trajectory can be attributed, in large part, to the best-in-class team executing our distinct vision. Saxton is an instinctive leader with tremendous creative acumen and a powerful ability to deliver,” said Steward II. “Equally, Neely is an executive producer with a penchant for unique storytelling and a strategic eye for talent and material that translates to great TV series, movies, and digital properties.”
Also announced today by the studio, known for championing diversity, authenticity, and underrepresented communities, was a shift which will see Chief Creative Officer Carl Reed reframe his focus to provide executive producer services on several key Lion Forge projects.
Lion Forge Animation is a leading Black-owned, full-service animation studio, founded in 2019, which sources, acquires, develops and produces authentic diverse content for global distribution. Unmatched in size and scale, it’s one of the only Black-owned animation studios in the world, and the only Black-owned animation studio to have won an Oscar. Lion Forge sits within Steward II’s holding company Polarity, a diversified global media company with a mission to bring authentic content to a diverse global audience, which also houses Illustrated Syndicate and Magnetic Press, as well as Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group. In its two and a half years of operation, the animation studio has generated significant momentum.
“The company built several high-profile content partnerships (Imagine Kids + Family, BRON, Bento Box and Polygram among them), delivered on multiple productions (the latest with Disney), has established key entertainment industry alliances, and has scaled the IP portfolio,” said Polarity President, Edward Hamati. “The latest leadership and subsequent team hires complement and enhance the company’s profile and capabilities. We are excited and have some upcoming announcements which we think the industry will find compelling.”
“Authenticity matters across Polarity’s portfolio of companies,” added Steward II. “Our expanding leadership teams are taking the reins of brands with a singular, unique mandate to deliver diverse, authentic content representing underserved cultures, communities, voices and groups. We’re proud of what the teams are accomplishing and thrilled as Lion Forge Animation enters an exciting growth phase.”
Lion Forge Animation continues to expand its IP portfolio with the development and production of TV series and feature films. Upcoming releases include the Hair Love spinoff series Young Love for HBO Max; an animated series based on Cedella Marley’s picture book Marley and the Family Band; the animated series Heiress with BRON; Rise Up, Sing Out, exec produced by Grammy-winning artists Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, for Disney; multiple projects with Imagine Kids + Family including Chippy Hood, First Step, and Bugtron; and a new series based on the multiple award-winning Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook book series, produced alongside Folktellers Studios. The company also recently inked a deal with Scott 34 Racing to create Wendell Scott Ventures, which will introduce the groundbreaking life and legacy of NASCAR’s first Black racer and team owner to audiences through films, TV series, docuseries, digital content, games, and more.
Lion Forge Animation is represented by Activist Artists Management.