NBA legend Magic Johnson, Oscar winner Samuel L. Jackson and Tony-nominated actor, director and producer LaTanya Richardson Jackson are among the latest backers of Statement Films, a women-led entertainment start-up that was created to bridge the gap between African and diaspora women creators and the global marketplace. The company announced the news on Thursday during the Joburg Film Festival.
Founded by writer and producer Areej Noor, Statement Films is focused on finding and developing IP from African women creators. The company raised $750,000 in a round of funding that included the celebrities and a host of business leaders.
Born in Washington, D.C., to a prominent global women’s rights activist turned political strategist, Noor is a writer, producer, political analyst and entrepreneur whose career includes stints at MSNBC and Al Jazeera English.
“I grew up exposed to incredibly creative and powerful stories of African women, but I felt they were still underserved by Western media and the entertainment elite — that is why I founded Statement Films,” she said. “Having the support of Hollywood, sports and business titans gives us the momentum to establish new and equitable pathways for the explosive female talent coming from the continent.”
Last year, the company announced a partnership with First Look Media’s U.S. streaming service Topic to support, develop and finance a slate of 10 feature films and episodic series from female creators from Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uganda.
“I am incredibly excited to be a part of the journey with Statement Films,” said Samuel L. Jackson. “The company is doing such important work to fill a long overdue gap in the industry. We can look forward with optimism to the future of African women in film.”
“As a female creative, this is something I am particularly passionate about and I look forward to seeing the opportunities and progress that will unfold for African women through the incredible work of Areej and her team at Statement Films,” added LaTanya Richardson Jackson.
The Joburg Film Festival runs Jan. 31 – Feb. 5.