By Andreas Wiseman October 27, 2021 8:19am (Deadline)
EXCLUSIVE: Alumni Pros Global Sports (APGS) has set an exclusive partnership with David Steward II’s Lion Forge Animation studio (Hair Love), making Lion Forge Animation the official partner and producer of all animated content conceived by the hundreds of professional athletes within the APGS network.
APGS advisors and investors include NBA Hall of Famers Julius “Dr. J” Erving, George Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo, and Mitch Richmond, NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, and current NFL players Brandon Copeland and Tahir Whitehead.
The pact, constructed by APGS co-founder Robert Smith and LFA’s Head of Business Development Jimmy Thomas, will span long and short form episodic series as well as features, shorts, and hybrid content.
The partnership will look to capitalise on content produced, written and distributed by current and retired professional athletes and give pro athletes the opportunity to pool their resources to finance, produce, distribute, and participate in the IP ownership that they create.
Lion Forge Animation was behind Oscar-winning short Hair Love, directed by former pro athlete Matthew A. Cherry, the Andre the Giant graphic novel, and MMA Fighter Rampage Jackson’s comic book. The firm is one of the only Black-owned animation studios in the world.
APGS is an entertainment collective for professional athletes which looks to help athletes manage IP. Its group includes media network PlayersTV.
Lion Forge Animation founder David Steward II said: “The impact, influence and star power of athletes is accelerating rapidly and will continue on this trajectory as NIL rules, NFTs and new entertainment platforms expand creator economies fueled by content. APGS has been ahead of the curve in recognizing the value of athletes’ individual brands, their creations, and the connectivity to their fans. Couple this with the increased popularity and demand for animation content globally and we have an exciting journey ahead bringing athletes’ stories to life in uber creative ways that fans will love. The possibilities are endless.”
“With Dear Basketball, Kobe Bryant demonstrated the power of animation and how a player’s legacy can live on beyond their playing days through their digital likeness,” added Jerome Williams, founder of Alumni Pros Global Sports and retired NBA power forward.“Today, athletes and brands around the world recognize animation as the next frontier of name, image, and likeness. Our partnership with Lion Forge gives athletes, particularly minority athletes, the unlimited potential to explore new avenues of storytelling and expand their creative horizons through animation.”
Robert Smith, co-founder of APGS and IECP Fund Management commented: “When Clarence Avant introduced us to the Steward Family, we immediately recognized the opportunity to take the torch and build upon the success of Lion Forge, by providing a platform that empowers athletes and influencers as storytellers. We are creating the Motown of Animation.”
Lion Forge Animation is repped by Activist Artists Management.