Kenan Thompson and John Ryan Jr. announced the launch of Artists For Artists (AFA), a full-service production company with a commerce division and bespoke management representation. Artists for Artists will serve as an incubator for artists to create and produce their own content.
AFA will build companies 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 co-founder and Ryan as co-founder and CEO.
Artists for Artists has also formed a joint venture with McKeon/Myones Entertainment, the management firm operated by Mel McKeon and Laura Myones Ruf. Titled AFA Prime Talent, the partnership will be AFA’s management arm and complement the company’s production and development efforts in 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 its first projects, AFA will produce “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth Part 2” along with Mike Tyson, Kiki Tyson and Azum Spicer. The special, written by Kiki, stars Tyson live on stage in a multi-city tour as a follow up to his 2013 one-man show and HBO special.
AFA’s executive group and additional projects across film, television, podcasts, live events, and celebrity commerce will be announced in the coming weeks.
Thompson is best known as the longest-running cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and also currently appears in 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 producing “Bill & Ted Face the Music.”
“Any artists looking to build a company, come see us,” Thompson said. “John and I are excited to develop companies with talent that are owned and operated by the talent. We’ve all been part of projects we as artists wish we owned a bigger piece of, so we knew it was time to start a company that reflected that.”
“In my 20+ years working in Hollywood, it has always shocked me how rarely talent has ownership per project,” Ryan added. “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. AFA was built to partner and co-own the company with the talent, rather than licensing their brand. We believe talent and brands should be controlled by the talent and brand itself. With AFA, our artists in film, television and live entertainment have the creative freedom of owning their own content and commerce to release to the marketplace.”
Artists For Artists is represented by Paradigm. Thompson is represented by UTA and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. Ryan is represented by Paradigm.