Audio-first company SomeFriends founded by media execs Andrew Kuo and Kareem Rahma have hired former The Other Two producer Kaylani Esparza as Head of Development to manage and grow the slate of original fiction and non-fiction podcasts. In addition, the company has received additional funding from New Media Ventures which supports entrepreneurs with innovative approaches to progressive change for a more inclusive society.
SomeFriends launched earlier this year to serve as a home for original and immersive storytelling, giving underrepresented voices a platform to tell their stories.
Prior to joining SomeFriends, Esparza was the Director of Development for Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, where she produced both seasons of the aforementioned The Other Two, and worked on shows such as Detroiters, Documentary Now!, Shrill, Portlandia, and Los Espookys. Esparza started her career at CAA, where she worked directly with Managing Partner Steve Lafferty.
“My goal has always been to make premium content for audiences everywhere, while seeking out creative talent from underrepresented communities as much as possible along the way,” said Esparza. “Andrew and Kareem share the same passion and I’m excited to have the opportunity to help build something great from the ground up.”
“Kaylani’s impeccable taste and relationships within the industry are impressive and we feel so fortunate to find a like-minded executive who wants to tell the same stories,” said Kuo, CEO & Co-Founder of SomeFriends. “This new funding furthers our shared mission to create a more inclusive society that celebrates our differences.”
SomeFriends’ new funding is earmarked for growth across hiring, in addition to building out the SomeFriends platform and further investment into its slate of upcoming projects. SomeFriends is currently in production on a number of original podcasts, both fiction and non-fiction formats, that span across various genres — from comedy to thriller, to autobiographical folktales and science fiction. Slate announcements for projects in production are forthcoming.
“At New Media Ventures, our investments are a mechanism for societal change and we’re excited to be part of the SomeFriends journey,” said Jessica Salinas, VP of Investments at New Media Ventures. “As Andrew and Kareem continue to build out their library of original stories, we’re confident that the amplification of the voices within the community they’re growing will transform the entertainment industry.”
SomeFriends has already partnered with writers from some of the most popular and anticipated shows on television to create both scripted and unscripted podcasts, including Pakistani-American writer Abdullah Saeed (HBO’s High Maintenance), Mauritanian-American Muslim writer and comedian Mamoudou N’Diaye (Netflix’s Space Force) and Korean-American writer Sarah Cho (Hulu’s The Girl from Plainville).