Tennis powerhouse Naomi Osaka is using her latest venture to empower underrepresented and marginalized communities through storytelling. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the four-time Grand Slam champion is creating her own media company.
The production imprint—dubbed Hana Kuma—is being cultivated through a creative partnership with NBA star LeBron James and businessman Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Company. Osaka wants to use her company—which has a moniker derived from the Japanese words “flower bear”—as a vessel to amplify diverse stories and create culturally relevant content.
“There has been an explosion of creators of color finally being equipped with resources and a huge platform,” Osaka shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “In the streaming age, content has a more global perspective. You can see this in the popularity of television from Asia, Europe and Latin America that the unique can also be universal. My story is a testament to that as well. I’m so excited for what we are building at Hana Kuma. We will bring stories to life with this goal in mind: to make unique perspectives feel universal and inspire people along the way.”
Hana Kuma will be led by Osaka and Stuart Duguid. Chavonne LeNoir will serve as head of development. The SpringHill Company will support Hana Kuma with development, production and strategic resources.
Many of the projects on Hana Kuma’s slate sit at the intersection of sports and activism. Amongst them is the film MINK! which delves into the life and legacy of Patsy Mink; the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress who instrumentally contributed to the advancement of Title IX. The New York Times op-doc is being directed by filmmaker Ben Proudfoot who created the award-winning film about basketball legend Lusia “Lucy” Harris Stewart dubbed The Queen of Basketball.
News about Hana Kuma comes a month after Osaka announced she was launching a sports agency.