David Steward, II knows how important it is for parents to have authentic, family-friendly Black animation shows that represent and reflect their children. “Often our stories are told by other people, and they’re not being representative and created by ourselves. I wanted to change that paradigm,” Steward shares. “It's important to look for opportunities for your child to see themselves on screen and learn about other cultures as well.”

Lion Forge founder David Steward, II. Image: courtesy Lion Forge.

As the founder of Lion Forge Entertainment, a mission-driven entertainment company, he and his team focus on diverse storytellers to help amplify under-represented voices by creating authentic and appealing content for a broad audience. Lion Forge just announced a development pact with Penguin Young Readers for a slate of children’s film and TV projects and has an ongoing deal with Nickelodeon to bring Black-centric content to the network.

“With Nickelodeon, they have been intentional in leading into diversity inclusion and ensuring that all their productions have an array of voices on them,” he shares. "That fits very well within within our model. So it was a great partnership to work with them.”

Lion’s Forge’s upcoming project Iyanu, "is based on Nigeria and urban culture folklore. I think it's probably one of the first times we're imbuing African mythology into projects." Steward understands the importance of having authentic cultural voices as well. "Being African American, I can talk about the Black experience from a creative standpoint, but we're getting behind a Nigerian creative who knows what it is to be African. Those voices are very important to have in the content."

Iyanu is set to hit the airwaves in 2025. Steward recommends these five shows you can watch now with your children right now.

My Dad The Bounty Hunter (Netflix)

After stowing away on their dad’s latest work trip, hoping to get some quality time together, siblings Lisa and Sean discover he’s the toughest bounty hunter in the galaxy and go on an adventure of a lifetime.


Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Kenya Barris joined forces for ENTERGALACTIC, an original, immersive, animated story about a young artist named Jabari—voiced by Mescudi—as he attempts to balance love and success. For kids “that are a little bit older,” Steward suggests. 

Rise Up, Sing Out (Disney+)

These animated, music-based shorts provide inspiring and empowering messages about race, culture and community to celebrate differences and foster conversation.

Rhymes through Times (Noggin/Paramount+)

From Lion Forge, these series shorts celebrate Black culture by highlighting the experiences of Black historical figures. Lasette Canady created the animated musical series, which features music performed by And Just Like That star Christopher Jackson.

Young Love (Max) Premieres September 21

Stephen Love and Angela Young are navigating life after her remission and juggling the demands of parenthood with their fearless daughter Zuri. "A lot of people from Hair Love are involved with the spin-off. But they are also involved with many of the other projects here as well," Steward exclaims. "My Dad the Bounty Hunter creator Everett Downing Jr. is a director of Young Love. Bruce W. Smith, who created The Proud Family, is also a director. It's a combination of all the Black animation directorial producing talent converging on one project."