EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is partnering with Nairobi-based media and tech startup Kukua in support of their franchise Super Sema, a new YouTube Originals kids and family program. Super Sema marks Africa’s first kid superhero animated series and will debut the first eight episodes on March 8, International Women’s Day. The remaining 12 episodes will be released throughout March and April.
Nyong’o not only serves as an Executive Producer of Super Sema, but as a shareholder in Kukua, the startup founded in 2015 by Lucrezia Bisignani, who serves as CEO. In addition, Nyong’o will voice a character on the series.
Fueled by STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) superpowers, Super Sema follows the adventures of the titular extraordinary young African girl, Sema, who lives in the neo-African-futuristic community of Dunia.
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“I share Kukua’s goal to empower children through inspiring stories that feature characters in which the children see themselves reflected. I am delighted to be a part of this talented, female-led team of purposeful creators,” said Nyong’o. “As a Kenyan, I couldn’t be prouder of Super Sema’s introduction to the world and the opportunities Kukua provides for our local creative community to produce entertainment that reflects our culture.”
“We are thrilled to announce that Lupita is a part of our company and our mission to empower children with the skills and capacity to dream beyond what they think is possible and to imagine and create a better world. Our team couldn’t be prouder to partner with Lupita, whose voice and talent has already inspired millions across the world,” said Bisignani. “Together, we’re excited to build the next big global kids’ franchise, starting with the Super Sema animated series. Our aim is to continue to create content and products that inspire children to take what they’ve learned from Super Sema into the real world to invent, create, and play.”
Kukua’s COO Vanessa Ford added, “74% of characters on TV remain white and only a few portray Black female leads in STEAM. As a Black girl growing up in North America who majored in science, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me when I watched cartoons or walked into a chemistry class.”
She continued, “Today when my children turn on their favorite program, I want to know that they not only can see themselves positively reflected on screen but that they are emboldened to believe they too can be scientists, inventors and change-makers. Sema is the role model for today’s generation of children.”
Kukua is an edutainment startup with an award-winning female team working at the intersection of technology, entertainment and education. Super Sema is the company’s first franchise and was introduced to children in Africa through literacy apps.
Super Sema was written by four-time BAFTA winner Claudia Lloyd (Charlie & Lola, Mr. Bean, Tinga Tinga Tales), directed by Lynne Southerland, the first female African-American director for Disney (Mulan II).
Check out the exclusive first-look photo above.
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