President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground Productions is getting into the kids’ TV business with an animated preschool series from Doc McStuffins creator Chris Nee and Netflix.
The streamer has ordered 40, 12-minute episodes of Ada Twist, Scientist, which is based on the book series by author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts.
The series, which will launch in 2021, follows Ada Twist, a young Black scientist who will explore helping people through scientific discovery, collaboration and friendship.
Kerri Grant, a writer on Mira, Royal Detective and Nella the Princess Knight, will serve as showrunner. Wonder Worldwide, the company behind Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles, also is a producing partner on the project, which is the first series under Netflix’s overall deal with Nee and her production company Laughing Wild.
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Eight-year old Ada Twist is a pint-size scientist with a giant-size curiosity who aspires to discover the truth about absolutely everything. With the help of her two best friends, Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, Ada unravels and solves mysteries for her friends and family. But solving the mystery is only the beginning, because science isn’t just about learning how and why and what — it’s about putting that knowledge into action to make the world a better place.
The series also will feature real scientists to inspire young viewers. Nee will exec produce alongside Mark Burton, Tonia Davis, Priya Swaminathan, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. Dr. Knatokie Ford, former Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under Obama, and Alie Ward, a contributor to Netflix’s educational series Brainchild, serve as series consultants.
“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Higher Ground to bring Ada Twist to the screen,” Nee said. “As a fan of the books, I was taken with the diverse characters, striking designs and vital message that science matters. Plus, Ada fulfills my personal need to populate children’s television with strong girls who aren’t afraid to be the smartest kids in the room. Once Kerri Grant came on board to showrun, I knew we had the dream team to bring this special series to life.”
Melissa Cobb, VP Original Animation at Netflix, added: “Chris, Kerri and their talented team are creating a series that goes well beyond entertaining kids; they are bringing to life stories that reflect the world we live in and inspire us to envision solutions to the challenges we face. Ada is brilliant and funny and we hope she will ignite curiosity for kids around the world.”
Said Swaminathan and Davis, executive producers at Higher Ground Productions: “The Higher Ground team was inspired to produce Ada Twist, Scientist by President Obama and Mrs. Obama’s enduring commitment to young people, their education and knowing no bounds or limits to dreams for their future. Chris and Kerri’s show will ignite kids’ imaginations. This is exactly the type of show Higher Ground was founded to create — powerful, meaningful storytelling for the whole family.”
Kerri Grant, showrunner and co-executive producer, said: “It brings me immense joy to be a part of bringing Ada Twist to the screen. As a young, curious Black girl who grew up loving TV, I simply became accustomed to rarely seeing images that reflected me onscreen — and the ones that did, represented an anti-intellectual stereotype that led me to hide my own light under a bushel. To be a part of bringing a show to kids that features a young, Black girl being unapologetically the smartest kid in the room, in a world as diverse and visually stunning as the one created by the book series’ author and illustrator, fills my heart to capacity. Working with Chris Nee, my old boss and certified preschool TV hit-maker; and Higher Ground and their commitment to representation, dreaming big, and excellence, has been the alignment of so many stars, it’s truly a celestial event.”
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