Lion Forge Animation is expanding its leadership, fast. The St. Louis, Missouri studio has announced seven hires to its executive and creative teams.

They are Saxton Moore (executive creative director), Ariel Yamus (senior creative director), Patricio Yamus (studio head and executive producer, Lion Forge Animation Argentina), along with four executive producers: Jimmy Thomas, Lina Foti, Ray Brown, and Deena Boykin. See below for more information about them.

Launched in 2019 by David Steward II (image at top), Lion Forge is one of the rare animation studios owned by an African American — and the only one of those that has an Oscar, which it won last year for co-producing the short Hair Love. It is currently expanding the film into a series for HBO Max called Young Love.

Meanwhile, Lion Forge is developing projects based on its existing IP, including titles from its comics publishing unit, as part of a first-look deal with Imagine Kids+Family. It is also financing and producing projects as part of a partnership with China’s Starlight Media. In Steward’s words, the studio aims to tell “unrepresented stories.”

Here are the details of the new hires:

Saxton Moore.
Saxton Moore.
  • Saxton Moore is joining as executive creative director. The experienced producer-director has worked with companies including Netflix, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, FuseTV, and A+E, and has directed episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, among other shows. He has twice been nominated for an Emmy.
  • Ariel Yamus is joining as senior creative director. Coming from a background in design, illustration, and animation, Yamus will focus on exploring “new methods of creativity for all areas, from storytelling to character design to audio production.”
  • Patricio Yamus.
    Patricio Yamus.

    Patricio Yamus is joining as studio head and executive producer at Lion Forge Animation Argentina. Yamus was formerly CEO of Buenos Aires’s Blu Animation Studio, which he founded. There, he worked with international clients in advertising, private equity, brands, government, live-action production, and animation production.

Lion Forge has also hired four executive producers to support production, creative, and marketing efforts across the company:

Lion Forge Animation
(Left to right) Jimmy Thomas, Lina Foti, Ray Brown, Deena Boykin
  • Jimmy Thomas has spent over 30 years working in roles across the entertainment business. He has written and produced music for a range of clients, earning several multi-platinum and gold records; has provided consulting services to major entertainment companies; and was involved in the production of Hair Love.
  • Lina Foti has experience in marketing and business development. She has developed original IP for international audiences and set up global co-productions, as well as localizing shows across Latin America and English-speaking countries. She has production credits with companies including NBCU, NatGeo Kids, and Northern Pictures.
  • Ray Brown has over 25 years’ experience in entertainment. He has produced content and worked with the likes of Nick Cannon, Alfonso Ribiero, Shemar Moore, Quincy Jones, and Sommer Ray.
  • Deena Boykin has worked for 20 years in sales, marketing, and business development. She has worked with companies including Disney, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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