EXCLUSIVE: Pro basketball player Jarnell Stokes is partnering with veteran animation exec and producer Jay Fukuto (The Simpsons, King of the Hill) to co-write and produce Wings to Fly, an animated feature based on his sports-themed children’s book of the same name.
The book published by Creation Nation Animation in April of 2020 is a redemption tale about a brilliant, but self-centered rising basketball star who is prematurely killed, only to discover his higher spiritual purpose helping a young girl. At a crossroad between a virtuous life and a path to crime, Louisa meets her guardian angel, Jerrold, who teaches her the game of life through basketball, learning that success comes with perseverance.
The book co-written by Stokes and Howard Flamm and illustrated by Eunsoo Jeong was also recently picked up for publication by Mascot Books. Dea Shandera-Hunter will exec produce, with pro-athlete career company Unique Sports Management on board to help bring additional sports talent onto the project.
“One of the most important projects I have had the pleasure of working on is the animated Wings to Fly motion picture,” said Fukuto. “In our chaotic and stressful times, there is a real need for stories such as ours, ones which reflect hope, faith, friendship, and strong values. On top of this, I am privileged to be part of a team that includes two exceptional and talented partners, Jarnell Stokes and Dea Shandera-Hunter.”
Stokes is an Olympic Gold medalist and former NBA player who currently plays for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, and has recently begun producing films through his Stoked Film Group banner including the horror-comedy Slayers, starring Abigail Breslin, Thomas Jane and Malin Akerman; the thriller Dig, starring Thomas Jane, Emile Hirsch and Liana Liberato; and the murder-mystery Helen’s Dead, starring Annabelle Dexter-Jones and Tyrese Gibson. K. Asher Levin directed all three films, which are being produced in association with BondIt Media Capital.
Stokes also recently stepped in as an executive producer on indie features including Robert Rippberger’s horror Those Who Walk Away, Matthew Greene-DeLange’s Skelly and Vassal Benford’s biopic BB King: The King of Blues.
As head of studio for the legendary animation studio Film Roman, Jay Fukuto supervised such hit series as The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, among others. He began his career at Paramount Pictures Network Television, there overseeing such classic primetime series as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Family Ties. He later worked for Walt Disney Television Animation, where he was responsible for Disney series such as Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Kim Possible, and was the executive head of MGM Animation.
Stokes is represented by Innovative Artists and Tammy Hunt of CSP Management.
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