The media production company will aim to give a bigger platform to “culturally specific” stories on “important social issues”.
Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka and American basketball superstar LeBron James will be teaming up to launch a media production company that will aim to give a bigger platform to “culturally specific” stories on “important social issues.”
The company is set to become a part of Osaka’s ever-growing portfolio of business ventures and investments. An off-court entrepreneur and one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world, Naomi boasts skin-care and fashion lines and also runs her own sports agency, Evolve, with her agent Stuart Duguid. Recently, the fiery Australian Nick Kyrgios became the first player to join her sports agency.
The four-time Grand Slam winner said that the new venture will be called Hana Kuma, which translates as “flower bear” in Japanese. Naomi also talked about her identity, mental health, and pressure on athletes. Osaka stated that the company will make “stories that are bold and playful like me”.
Speaking about the announcement of her new venture on social media, Osaka said:
“I’ve built my career by taking a different approach than those around me and because my journey has been so different it’s opened my eyes to all the incredible stories out there that aren’t getting told. Stories that are global, about a variety of cultures and points of view, about important social issues. That’s why I’m launching Hana Kuma, a media platform focused on stories that are culturally specific but universal. Stories that are bold and playful like me.
“I’m incredibly proud to be building a business that is a true reflection of me and I couldn’t think of a better partner than @kingjames to do this. I’m so excited to do this with him, @mavcarter, @stu_duguid, @uninterrupted, and @makespringhill. Can’t wait to share our stories.“
LeBron James, 37, a four-time NBA champion, said that he was incredibly proud to work alongside Naomi Osaka on the new venture as part of his SpringHill Co, created with Maverick Carter.
Speaking on the announcement, LeBron James tweeted:
“There’s reason we call ourselves an Empowerment Company. This incredible woman and the stories she is going to bring to life is EXACTLY what we about!!! Incredibly proud to call her my partner. @naomiosaka @makespringhill #MoreThananAthlete”
The production company will feature television shows, documentaries and anime programmes, Osaka told The New York Times, who first reported the news. She further added that she could not yet say whether she’d star in anything herself.
Naomi also withdrew from playing at Wimbledon earlier this month, citing a left Achilles tendon injury as her reason for withdrawal. The former World No. 1 is now ranked 42nd by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) having spent a significant amount of time sitting on the sidelines over the past few years.