In a big win for the South African media industry, Triggerfish is excited to bring the adventures of a new African superhero, Kiya, to children round the world. Kiya is the heroine in the animated action-adventure series called Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes –a show about a trio of friends that combine their everyday passions with extraordinary powers and teamwork. The series takes place in the fictional Kimoja City, a city inspired by the sights and sounds of southern Africa.
Hasbro has announced March 22, 2023 as the US market premiere date and April 2023 as the international launch date for this new kids’ TV series, developed and co-produced by South African animation studio, Triggerfish. The show will be streamed on Disney Junior and Disney+ and broadcast on France Télévisions, amongst other channels, and released in South Africa later this year.
Grounded in recognisable elements of African styles, Kiya proudly mashes up her passions of dance and martial arts into unique routines while having fun with her family and friends, as most kids do. But unlike most kids, Kiya’s dance and martial arts prowess become her super powers when she puts on her headband adorned with mystical Kimoja crystals, transforming her into “Dance Ninja” and giving her the ability to perform signature moves like the “pirouette POW”. Always at Kiya’s side are her best friends and fellow Kimojans, Motsie, whose superhero name is “Tech Racer” and Jay, also known by his superhero name “Flying Rockstar”. Together they are known as The Kimoja Heroes.
An original concept by Robert Vargas, adapted from characters created by South Africans Marc Dey and Kelly Dillon, this action-adventure animated series follows Kiya, a seven-year-old African girl who was inspired by the antics of Dey’s daughter who played dress-up as a ninja-princess but also saves the world, and, through Kiya, the team has wonderfully captured this duality in a heroine who boldly shines bright and makes things right with her two friends.The project is the first success from Triggerfish’s 2015 Story Lab initiative that saw Dey and Dillon selected as part of a cohort of emerging creators from around Africa. The project was selected out of almost 1,400 ideas and now joins Netflix’s Supa Team 4 (previously Mama K’s Team 4) that was also developed as part of the Story Lab.
Triggerfish’s award-winning producers Anthony Silverston and Vanessa Sinden brought the series to the global market with the series being produced by Frog Box for Hasbro’s entertainment studio, eONE. Segun Samson, who contributed to the design of the original character during the development phase, was brought back to work on the show. Malcolm Wope (designer on Supa Team 4 and Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team) consulted on the initial direction of the martial art elements for this project.
Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes is the product of Triggerfish’s vision of bringing African stories, voices, and creativity to the global market and taking African animation excellence to the world. “Our belief is that Kiya will represent and empower young girls to be leaders who can use their smarts and skills to solve big problems,” says Tshepo Moche, writer and creative consultant at Triggerfish. “While Kiya is not the first Black female protagonist in children’s programming, there is still a tremendous opportunity for representation. There has never been a better moment for the landscape of children’s programming to reflect the diversity and size of the audience they serve.”
The visual style of the series was originally developed by South African artists inspired by the vibrant and culturally diverse Bo-kaap neighbourhood of Cape Town. The look was further developed by Cape Town studio, Tulips and Chimneys and Frog Box in development and production in France.
Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes is a show celebrating confidence, diversity and community. It prides itself in deviating from showing girls only as princesses, offering an opportunity to represent and empower young girls – especially since pre-school action superhero stories traditionally skews to young boys and rarely feature black girls as leads.
Triggerfish is currently working with both Dey and Dillion on other properties in development, including; Rosy Days, a series based on Kelly’s short film Belly Flop, and Tonko, created by Terence Maluleke, who is one of the directors in the Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire anthology.
Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes © Frog Box S.A.S. / Entertainment One UK Limited / Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2021.