Iwaju: Disney, Kugali Share Animated Series Preview Image at D23 Expo

Back in June 2021, during a presentation at the Annecy Animation Festival, Walt Disney Animation Studios and the pan-African entertainment company Kugali (founders: Tolu Olowofoyeku, Ziki Nelson & Hamid Ibrahim) offered some first-look images from the upcoming original animated series Iwájú. Originally expected for 2022, a project of this nature requires extra time, consideration & patience. But during tonight's D23 Expo 2022 presentation, we were treated to a brand new preview image for the 2023-debuting series. The sci-fi series (whose title translates roughly to "The Future" in the Yoruba language) is set in Lagos, Nigeria, exploring deep themes of class, innocence, and challenging the status quo. Says director Ziki Nelson, "This show will combine Disney's magic and animation expertise with Kugali's fire and storytelling authenticity. Iwájúre presents a personal childhood dream of mine to tell my story and that of my people," shared director Nelson.

Iwájú (Image: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

"There's so many different filmmakers, artists out there, who have a voice that we can help the world hear," said Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer Jennifer Lee. And the relationship isn't a one-way street for Disney, with Lee noting that the creative collaboration with Kugali has "made us better storytellers at Disney…[by] shaking up how we work. It's making us move towards the future." Just from what we've seen so far, the project is clearly a departure from Pixar's past award-winning efforts (and should add to Pixar's award cabinet). "This project is proof that there is a place for whatever story you want to tell in the world, and there's a hunger for it," noted filmmaker Natalie Nourigat ("Far From the Tree"), adding that there is an ever-growing "hunger for authenticity, and…for new stories" that this project feeds into. "If you're not seeing yourself represented, if you're not seeing something that's true to you represented or something that you care about represented, please make it," Nourigat urged.


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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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