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All you need to know about Max & Cartoon Network's Nigerian animated series 'Iyanu'

Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Shaffy Bello, and Blossom Chukwujekwu have joined the cast.

Nigerian animated series, ‘Iyanu,’ coming to Cartoon Network and Max [Instagram/royeokupe]

Rising Nigerian actress, Serah Johnson will play the lead. Other cast members announced are Ike Ononye, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Okey Jude, Samuel Kugbiyi, Stella Damasus, and Shaffy Bello.

Iyanu is an adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios popular graphic novel series, Iyanu: Child of Wonder by Nigerian writer Roye Okupe. The series has been slated for release in 2025 in the US on Cartoon Network and Max.

Along with serving as executive producer, Okupe is also writing and directing multiple episodes of the series. Brandon Easton (Transformers: War for Cybertron: Seige, Marvel’s Agent Carter) is the head writer of the series. Godwin Akpan is the art director. Already two seasons of 26 episodes have been ordered.

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According to Warner Bros. Discovery (Max and Cartoon Network parent company), the series, “follows a teenage orphan girl, Iyanu, who spends her days studying history and ancient arts but wants a normal life. One day, responding to danger, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers, which have not been seen since the Age of Wonders. With newly discovered superpowers, Iyanu joins forces with two other teenagers, Biyi and Toye, as they embark on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the evil moving around in their homeland. Throughout Iyan’s adventure, she’ll uncover the truth about her past, her parents, and her ultimate destiny to save the world.”

The executive producers are David Steward II and Matt Heath from Lion Forge Entertainment, Erica Dupuis of Impact X Capital, Ryan Haidarian of Forefront Media Group and Doug Schwalbe.

When the 2D animated series was first announced by Cartoon Network and Max in 2022, Okupe shared his thoughts on working with a group that values authenticity and how he wanted to combine fantasy with the beauty of ancient West Africa.

When I set out to create Iyanu for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” he said.

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Roye Okupe’s incredible talent as a creator, writer, and director is a testament to his dedication to storytelling that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds,” Steward, who is the founder and CEO of Lion Forge Entertainment told Deadline.

Last year Okupe told Deadline of working with Steward that he is “delighted to call Lion Forge Entertainment my creative home. They have shown unwavering support for my vision of Iyanu and the YouNeek YouNiverse, and I am eager to work closely with them on bringing these stories to life. This partnership not only strengthens our commitment to authentically represent Nigerian and African stories but also opens the door to new, original projects within the YouNeek YouNiverse and Lion Forge’s exciting originals.”

In the past few years, there has been a rise of Western studios commissioning animated series based on Africa. Cartoon Network itself last year rolled out Garbage Boy and Trash Can, a series that was produced in Africa. Disney has rolled out Iwaju and Kizazi Moto.

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