A 55-episode TV series that follows the adventures of six African teens as they navigate the complex challenges of school, family and friendship, has been nominated for an International Emmy Award. My Better World was produced by South Africa’s Fundi Films in collaboration with Johannesburg-based MAAN Creative for Impact(Ed) International (formerly Discovery Learning Alliance). The International Emmy Awards ceremony will be held in New York on 21 November 2022.
The series was also selected for Annecy International Animation Film Festival – the world’s highest-profile animation event.
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My Better World has already been broadcast across 5 African countries with a reach of 140 million, with more broadcasters and countries to follow soon. With an average of 1.4 million viewers weekly, it was one of Kenya’s most popular shows and the number one kids’ show in Kenya. “My Better World embodies the best of what media can and should do – draw audiences on its entertainment merit, telling the stories that matter most, and leaving them empowered to improve their lives and the lives of those around them,” says Ivy Denge from Citizen TV in Kenya.
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An African series for African audiences
“We spent three years working with a pan-African team of over 100 artists to bring the series to life, and to see it being enjoyed by viewers across our continent is amazing. This International Emmy nomination is great recognition for the whole team,” says Chris Morgan, South African series producer at Fundi Films, one of the two South African companies behind the series.
The production is one of the largest animated series ever created entirely in Africa. Each episode revolves around the six friends facing a particular challenge in their lives and also includes a two-minute documentary showcasing inspiring role models from across Africa.
“We had writers in Tanzania and Kenya, documentary crews in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and beyond, and of course the incredible animators from MAAN Creative in Johannesburg,” says Morgan. The series was produced in four languages (English, Swahili, Somali and Hausa). A World Bank impact study showed the series led to increased school enrolment and improved parental aspirations for students to stay in school longer, stop early marriages, and have children later in life.
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Executive Producer and Co-CEO of Impact(Ed) International, Aric Noboa, says, “Through the series, we’re equipping young viewers with essential life skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and the power of collaboration, while addressing issues important to youth. These include child labour, child marriage, and gender roles. For example, in Nigeria there was a 43% increase in the number of girls enrolled in school in communities as a direct result of facilitated community screenings of the series.”
Aimed at teenagers, My Better World tackles challenging subject matter, MAAN creative co-director, Johan Scheepers, says, adding that it was important to get the tone right. “It had to be entertaining, educational, meet all the curriculum requirements and be sensitive to different cultural norms.”
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More than 35 South African animators and artists worked on My Better World. “We’re thrilled that My Better World has been nominated for an International Emmy,” says Scheepers. “These are African stories told by African creatives. I think it is very positive for African storytelling and our local animation industry. It is quite a landmark project in many ways.”
The first series is on track to broadcast out to 200 million people by the end of 2023 while the team is now developing a second season and actively looking for funding.