London-based kids’ entertainment company Cake has picked up the international distribution rights to African animated superhero series Super Sema.
Produced by London- and Nairobi-based female-led studio Kukua, Super Sema follows the adventures of a 10-year-old girl and her twin brother as they protect their African village from a villain and his robot army with the help of science and technology.
The YouTube Originals series launched its first 20×5’ season in 2021, followed by a second 12×11’ season this summer. It runs alongside science, technology, engineering, arts and maths educational videos which explore the science behind the series with fun experiments and crafts.
Super Sema is written by Claudia Lloyd (Charlie & Lola, Mr Bean) and exec produced by actor Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther).
Award-winning Nigerian-British actor Cynthia Erivo, Nigerian feature film Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) and Kenyan kids’ series Super Sema have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards.
Erivo has been nominated at the 53rd edition of the awards in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special for her role as singer Aretha Franklin in National Geographic series Genius.
She is also in the running for Outstanding New Artist in the recording category, while Genius has been nominated for the Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special award.
Meanwhile, Eyimofe, from Nigerian brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri and GDN Studios, is up for Outstanding International Motion Picture and YouTube original series Super Sema has been nominated for Outstanding Animated Series. The animated superhero series is produced by Kenyan outfit Kukua, with Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o voice acting in and exec producing the show.
Erivo said on Instagram: “Thank you NAACP Image Awards for always seeing us, for seeing me. Thank you for these nominations and for celebrating us. I love us and all that we are. Congratulations everyone.”
Eyimofe producer GDN Studios said: “Eyimofe has made history as the first Nigerian film to earn an NAACP Image Awards nomination.”
Kukua added: “We are incredibly honoured to stand by other groundbreaking nominees and extraordinary animated series and films and to be bringing more and more diversity in children’s entertainment.”
The annual NAACP Image Awards are presented by the US-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honour outstanding performances in film, television, theatre, music and literature. The 53rd edition is scheduled to take place on February 26 and will air live on ViacomCBS-owned channel BET.
In related news, Erivo is also among the nominees for next month’s 28th annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. She has been nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series for her role in Genius.
“It’s been one of the greatest honours in my life to play Ms Aretha Franklin, whose music changed the world,” the actor said on Instagram.
The SAG Awards will be presented on February 27 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.
YouTube Originals Kids and Family has ordered a second season of African animated series Super Sema, which is exec produced by Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o.
Made by an all-female team, the show is about a young superhero girl called Sema and her adventures saving the world. Season one debuted in March and its finale was made available last week.
Super Sema is produced by Kenyan outfit Kukua, with Kenyan-Mexican actor Nyong’o voice-acting on the show as well as exec producing. YouTube Originals creative exec Daniel Haack and kids and learning head Nadine Zylstra helped develop the series for the video platform.
Zylstra said: “The success of the show is due to both the creative guidance of its all-female led team and the relatability of the characters to our diverse, global audience of young viewers.”
Other shows on YouTube Originals Kids and Family include virtually filmed teen series Lockdown, Pinkfong Wonderstar and Sherwood.
Kenyan kids’ animated superhero series Super Sema is set to launch on YouTube next month, comprising 20 five-minute episodes.
Produced by Kenyan studio Kukua, the show debuts on March 8 and aims to teach kids how to think critically and solve problems using creativity and teamwork, using the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) framework.
It is set in an ‘Afro-futuristic’ world where the central character uses her science-fueled superpowers, plus some help from her brother, to protect her village from a heartless robot villain.
Super Sema director Lynne Southerland told Entertainment Weekly: “Making my own way as one of the early black female directors and producers in animation has taken the same kind of determination that Sema exemplifies.
“I’ve been longing to tell a story that really resonated with me and that inspires black children to dream beyond what they think is possible. And when you go further behind the scenes of the animated series, you’ll find it’s produced by a female-led team at the Kenyan production company, Kukua. It also pulls all of its voice talent from Kenya as well.”
Vanessa Ford, Kukua’s chief operating officer and Super Sema’s executive producer, added: “At Kukua, we’re building a company where we can take risks, have total creative freedom and change the way we make content for kids from the inside out.
“We’re based in Kenya with a female-led team from all over the world, with many from Africa and the African diaspora, like me. I know what it’s like for me and my own children growing up and not seeing ourselves represented in the cartoons we love. Yes, we want to empower today’s generation of children with positive black role models and STEAM skills, but we also want to make sure their voices are heard. It’s not a coincidence that our hero is named Sema, which is Swahili for ‘speak up!’”