Tennis star, entrepreneur and activist Naomi Osaka, along with her longtime agent and 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 but universal to all audiences” and that will address important societal issues. Joining Osaka and Duguid on the leadership team will be Chavonne LeNoir, who was previously manager of unscripted development at Vice, and 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 negotiated the transaction setting up Hana Kuma, will be a partner in the new prodco.
The SpringHill Company, meanwhile, will provide essential production, development and strategic resources to Hana Kuma. TSHC produced Osaka’s documentary series that premiered last summer on Netflix, and was nominated for a Producers Guild of America award. 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!, an upcoming New York Times Op-Doc from Oscar-winning director Ben Proudfoot about Hawaiian-born Japanese American Patsy Mink (pictured), the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress. During the Nixon administration, Mink authored and narrowly defended Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational institutions that accept federal funding.
The 20-minute doc is executive produced by Osaka via Hana Kuma, and will premiere on The New York Times Op-Docs (via nytimes.com and the Times‘ 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 in the U.S. Capitol.
Mink! was developed and produced by Proudfoot’s Breakwater Studios. The Times‘ Adam B. Ellick and Kathleen Kingsbury serve as executive producers alongside Osaka. For Op-Docs, Christine Kecher is senior commissioning editor, Andrew Blackwell is supervising editor and Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo is the producer. Hana Kuma’s Stuart Duguid also serves as an 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 that will be executive produced by Osaka, LeBron James and Maverick Carter.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Mink