EXCLUSIVE: Kaylani Esparza, who was formerly director of development at Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, where she produced series such as HBO Max’s The Other Two, is moving into audio.
Esparza has joined SomeFriends, the podcast company launched by former A+E Networks exec Andrew Kuo and ex-New York Times exec Kareem Rahma.
She becomes Head of Development at the company to oversee its slate of original fiction and non-fiction podcasts.
Separately, the business has received additional funding from New Media Ventures.
During her time at Broadway Video, Esparza worked on shows such as Detroiters, Documentary Now!, Shrill, Portlandia, and Los Espookys and prior to that she worked at CAA with managing partner Steve Lafferty.
SomeFriends launched earlier this year to increase stories by and about people of color in the audio sector. Its upcoming slate includes projects from creators behind popular television shows, including Abdullah Saeed, a Pakistani-American writer who starred and wrote on HBO’s hit comedy High Maintenance, Mamoudou N’Diaye, a Mauritanian-American Muslim writer and comedian who wrote for Netflix’s Space Force, and Korean-American writer Sarah Cho, who’s currently working on Hulu drama The Girl from Plainville.
SomeFriends already has partnerships with the likes of First Look Media’s streaming service Topic, QCODE Media, SALT, and doc studio XTR.
The additional investment has been earmarked for new hires, building out its platform and further investment into its content slate.
New Media Ventures, which supports entrepreneurs with innovative approaches to progressive, inclusive societal change, joins investors including Hyphen Capital, media veteran Sean Cohan; James Cole, Jr., Board Member of AIG and CEO of The Jasco Group; and Jennifer Fitzgerald, Co-founder and CEO of Policygenius.
“My goal has always been to make premium content for audiences everywhere, while seeking out creative talent fro m underrepresented communities as much as possible along the way,” said Esparza. “Andrew and Kareem share the same passion and I’m excited to have the opportunity to help build something great from the ground up.”
“Kaylani’s impeccable taste and relationships within the industry are impressive and we feel so fortunate to find a like-minded executive who wants to tell the same stories,” said Andrew Kuo, CEO & Co-Founder of SomeFriends. “This new funding furthers our shared mission to create a more inclusive society that celebrates our differences.”
“At New Media Ventures, our investments are a mechanism for societal change and we’re excited to be part of the SomeFriends journey,” added Jessica Salinas, VP of Investments at New Media Ventures. “As Andrew and Kareem continue to build out their library of original stories, we’re confident that the amplification of the voices within the community they’re growing will transform the entertainment industry.”