Kenan Thompson and John Ryan Jr. announced the launch of Artists For Artists (AFA), a full-service production company with a bespoke sales division and executive representation. Artists for Artists will serve as an incubator for artists to create and produce their own content.
AFA will build societies with artists and brands that the artists and brands themselves co-own, with the aim of helping artists retain rights to their content while partnering with global distributors. The company will be operated by Thompson as a co-founder and Ryan as a co-founder and CEO.
Artists for Artists also formed a joint venture with McKeon / Myones Entertainment, the management company operated by Mel McKeon and Laura Myones Ruf. Entitled AFA Prime Talent, the partnership will be the management arm of AFA and complement the company’s production and development efforts by representing a roster that already includes Yvonne Strahovski, Sarah Shahi, Shioli Kutsuna, Christina Vidal, Luiz Roberto Guzman , Leyna Bloom and Chella Man.
As one of his first projects, AFA will produce “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth Part 2” with Mike Tyson, Kiki Tyson and Azum Spicer. The special, written by Kiki, stars Tyson live on stage during a multi-city tour following his 2013 one-man show and HBO special.
The AFA steering group and additional projects in film, television, podcasts, live events and celebrity trading will be announced in the coming weeks.
Thompson is best known as the longest-serving “Saturday Night Live” actor and also currently appears on his own NBC sitcom “Kenan”. Ryan is an independent producer and the former COO of FilmEngine, known for producing “Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.” and executive producer of “Bill & Ted Face the Music”.
“All artists looking to start a business, come see us,” said Thompson. “John and I are excited to grow companies with talent that is owned and exploited by talent. We’ve all been involved in projects that we as artists wish to own more of, so we knew it was time to build a business that reflects that.
“In my 20+ years working in Hollywood, it has always shocked me how rarely talent is owner-by-project,” added Ryan. “Kenan and I have been friends for almost two decades, and it was time to create the change we wanted to see in the industry. The AFA was designed to partner and co-own the business with talent, rather than license their brand. We believe that talent and brands should be controlled by talent and the brand itself. With AFA, our film, television and live entertainment artists have the creative freedom to own their own content and business to release to market. “
Artists For Artists is represented by Paradigm. Thompson is represented by UTA and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. Ryan is represented by Paradigm.