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Hana Kuma Media Company

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Naomi Osaka starts a media company, with help from LeBron James. Photo Courtesy
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Naomi Osaka starts a media company, with help from LeBron James

Yes, you heard it right!

Osaka, 24, has started a media company called Hana Kuma in partnership with SpringHill, a fast-growing entertainment, marketing, and products company co-founded by LeBron James.

She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion who ranks as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, having earned $57 million in 2021, mostly from sponsorships. Walmart recently began to stock products from her skincare company, Kinlò, in nearly 3,000 locations. Last month, she started a sports representation agency.

And now Naomi Osaka is pushing into Hollywood — with an assist from LeBron James.

Osaka said in a brief Zoom interview that her ambitions for Hana Kuma, which stands for “flower bear” in Japanese, include scripted and unscripted television series, documentaries, anime and branded content, which is entertainment programming that has embedded or integrated advertising.

“I honestly can’t say if I’ll personally be in anything right now,” Osaka said. “What excites me is being able to inspire people and tell new stories, particularly ones that I would have wanted to see when I was a kid. I always wanted to kind of see someone like me.” Osaka is of Japanese and Haitian ancestry.

Naomi Osaka starts a media company, with help from LeBron James. Photo Courtesy

Fans should expect Osaka’s advocacy to underpin at least some of Hana Kuma’s offerings, most of which are still in development. Osaka has been outspoken on topics that many elite sports stars try to avoid.

She was an early supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Last year, she started a global discussion about mental health in sports when she withdrew from the French Open, citing a need to prioritize her well-being. She also disclosed past struggles with depression and anxiety.

Osaka’s candor has resonated with an audience far beyond sports — young people in particular — making her a sponsorship dream even though she has recently struggled on the tennis court. (She lost in the first round of the French Open last month. She said in a social media post-Saturday that she would not play at Wimbledon this summer because of an Achilles injury.)

One project in development involves cooking and the Haitian community.

“I watch a lot of food-related shows, and cooking competitions because I like to cook,” Osaka said with a laugh. The first project with Hana Kuma credits will be a New York Times Op-Doc about Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress.

Hana Kuma is also working on unspecified documentary content for Epix, a premium cable channel now owned by Amazon.

SpringHill, co-founded by Maverick Carter in 2020, will serve as financing, operations, and producing partner for Hana Kuma.

SpringHill wants to replicate the Hana Kuma deal with other athletes who have global appeal. “We want to do a lot more of this in the future,” Carter said, noting that discussions have started with other sports stars.

COURTESY

Felicity Gitonga
Felicity Gitonga is the founder of Africa Business News. abn, freelance writer, journalist, and author with a passion for telling stories.

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