Tennis star, entrepreneur and activist Naomi Osaka, along with her agent and longtime business partner Stuart Duguid, is launching a media company called Hana Kuma in partnership with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The SpringHill Company (TSHC).
The company will produce stories “that are culturally specific yet universal for all audiences” and that will address important societal issues. Joining Osaka and Duguid on the executive team will be Chavonne LeNoir, who previously served as head of unscripted development at Vice, and has also held roles at MGM, The Walt Disney Company and The CW. She will oversee both non-fiction and scripted content for Hana Kuma as head of development.
Heights LLC, an investment advisory firm founded by Alex Cohen that structured and brokered the deal setting up Hana Kuma, will partner in the new prodco.
SpringHill, meanwhile, will provide essential production, development, and strategic resources to Hana Kuma. TSHC produced the Osaka documentary series which premiered last summer on Netflix and was nominated for an award from the Producers Guild of America. Prior to that, Osaka collaborated with TSHC’s sports media brand Uninterrupted in 2019 for an art installation at Coachella.
The first project under the Hana Kuma banner will be Mink!next one New York Times Oscar-winning director Ben Proudfoot’s Op-Doc on Japanese-American Patsy Mink (pictured), the first woman of color elected to the US Congress. During the Nixon administration, Mink authored and aptly defended Title IX, a law that prohibits gender discrimination in educational institutions that accept federal funding.
The 20-minute documentary is produced by Osaka via Hana Kuma and will premiere on The New York Times Op-Docs (via nytimes.com and the Time‘ YouTube channel) on June 23 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX – the same day that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will unveil Mink’s official portrait at the United States Capitol.
Mink! was developed and produced by Proudfoot’s Breakwater Studios. The Time‘ Adam B. Ellick and Kathleen Kingsbury are executive producers alongside Osaka. For Op-Docs, Christine Kecher is editor-in-chief, Andrew Blackwell is editor-in-chief, and Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo is producer. Hana Kuma’s Stuart Duguid also serves as executive producer, alongside co-executive producers Chavonne LeNoir and Philip Byron.
Beyond Mink!Hana Kuma has a number of productions in development as well as deals for a documentary series with Epix which will be executive produced by Osaka, LeBron James and Maverick Carter.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Mink