Kenan Thompson has formalized his plans to move into production and talent management.
The Saturday Night Live star has launched Artists For Artists with John Ryan Jr., exec producer of Bill & Ted Face The Music, has formed a joint venture with management firm McKeon/Myones Entertainment, and set the company’s first project with boxing champion Mike Tyson.
It comes after the Kenan star revealed earlier this summer that he would like to move further into production during a conversation with his old SNL pal Seth Meyers.
Artists For Artists is a full-service artist incubator for content creation, production, commerce and management venture. The company is designed to help talent create and produce their own content and will help stars and creatives build their own content brands while partnering with distributors.
Thompson is set as co-founder with Ryan Jr., who was former COO of FilmEngine, producer of Bill & Ted Face The Music and who brought Mike Tyson out of retirement to fight Roy Jones Jr. in a major pay-per-view event, will serve as co-founder and CEO.
Tyson is involved in the company’s first project. The boxer, his wife Kiki Tyson and his brother-in-law and co-owner of Tyson’s Legends Only League Azim Spicer, will produce Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth Part 2, a live stage tour, written by Kiki Tyson that is a follow up to his 2013 one-man show and HBO special.
Artists for Artists will produce across film, series, podcasts and live events and will also have a celebrity commerce division. It is backed by investors including SOL Global, Ambria Capital, Green Tech, k2, and High Torque Investments.
The company has also formed a joint venture with McKeon/Myones Entertainment, the management firm operated by partners Mel McKeon and Laura Myones Ruf, which will be rebranded as AFA Prime Talent. The management arm represents talents including Yvonne Strahovski, Sarah Shahi, Shioli Kutsuna, Christina Vidal, Luiz Roberto Guzman, Leyna Bloom and Chella Man.
Thompson, who is hosting the 2021 People’s Choice Awards, said, “Any artists looking to build a company, come see us. John and I are excited to develop companies with talent that are owned and operated by the talent. We’ve all been part of projects we as artists wish we owned a bigger piece of, so we knew it was time to start a company that reflected that.”
John Ryan Jr. added, “In my 20 plus years working in Hollywood, it has always shocked me how rarely talent has ownership per project. Kenan and I have been friends for almost two decades, and it was time to create the change we wanted to see in the industry. Artists for Artists was built to partner and co-own the company with the talent, rather than licensing their brand. We believe talent and brands should be controlled by the talent and brand itself. With AFA, our artists in film, television and live entertainment have the creative freedom of owning their own content and commerce to release to the marketplace.”
Artists For Artists is represented by Paradigm. Kenan Thompson is represented by UTA and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. John Ryan Jr. is represented by Paradigm.