At 24, Tony Weaver is building a media empire to combat misrepresentations of people that you see on screen. As consumers, we can underestimate the significance of what’s fed to us on our screens. Weaver didn’t like what he was seeing and created Weird Enough Productions. His company has put him on the radar of Forbes (he’s a Forbes 30 under 30) and even helped him win the Marriott #LoveTravels Beyond Barriers, giving him $50K to invest in his company. Within his media company, he’s created a comic strip called The UnCommons.
The UnCommons features a black woman, who is the leader of the group of superheroes. We caught up with Weaver who spoke exclusively to Hello Beautiful about his series, natural hair representation, and more about his media empire.
HB: You have a comic strip called ‘The UnCommons.’ It features a black woman. Iris is a young, black girl with natural hair. Who inspired this character and why did you make her superpowers vision?
The UnCommons is a comic series about a group of hesitant heroes that leap into action when one of them predicts a great evil. We initially started with four panel comics but are now expanding to full-fledged graphic novels. Iris, is the leader of the UnCommons, and also the catalyst that brings them together.
Iris was inspired by the multitude of black women I have the privilege to have friendships with. They’re smart, funny, quirky, intuitive, and kinda awkward sometimes. When I looked around at black female comic characters not only did I see that there weren’t many, they didn’t feel three dimensional or representative of the people that I know. All of the Black Women in my life have stories about how they had to fight for who they are. How they had to fight to be nuanced and not put into a box. I want Iris to serve as a beacon for unapologetic self love. Hopefully it’ll make the fight a little easier.
Her power was a no brainer for me. It’s indicative of the fact that we need to listen to Black Women. We have a character who has literally foreseen something capable of causing irreparable harm and she needs people to listen to what she’s saying. It’s timely right now because of what we see happening around the country, but regardless of what time we’re in, Iris’ power is meant to tell young Black Girls to trust themselves, and that through their eyes they can see a world nobody else can.
HB: Representation of natural hair that is kinky curly isn’t often seen in media. Your character Iris has natural hair – why is it important to you for people to see this hair type in your characters?
It’s important for us to depict a positive representation of people with natural hair because its “natural.” At Weird Enough, we believe that everybody should be their most authentic self, so it’s essential that we model that with our characters. We’re intentional about people being all different shades and hues, and there are actually some plot points rooted in those details.
HB: What are some great depictions of Black women in media that you are currently applauding?
In media right now I’m really enjoying the influx of black women writing comics. Nnedi Okorafor and Eve Ewing are launching new stories right now and I love when they share their artistic process. If they read The UnCommons and gave me a thumbs up it’d fill me with joy.
HB: Who would you cast as Iris if you were to make your comic into a movie?
One thing that really excites me about Iris and all of the UnCommons is that I have no idea who would play them in a movie. I would lose my mind if the cosplayer Pixel Ghost cosplayed as Iris, I think she’d be perfect for it. What I can say, is there will be an UnCommons movie. I’m confident in that. It’s exciting to think that at this moment, even though we don’t know who she is, the leading lady who will play Iris is somewhere training, honing her craft, and developing superpowers of her own. I can’t wait to work with her.
HB: I’m sure there are content creators out there really excited about what Weird Enough Productions is doing. Are you open to partner with others?
We want to be a place for nerds and creatives of all kinds to call home. In a few weeks, our comic platform Weird Enough HQ will offer a variety of ways for our community to share their work, partner with us, and even have their own ideas featured in the comic. We know that to tell the stories that need to be told, we must allow everyone to share their perspectives.
HB: What’s next for Weird Enough Productions?
In a few weeks we’ll be launching two technology platforms. One called Weird Enough HQ, where people can read our comics, improve their artistic process, and add their ideas to the world that we’re building. If you’re into comics, love reading diverse stories, or would like to tell some stories yourself, Weird Enough HQ is your new home.
Our second platform is called Get Media L.I.T. where we partner our comics with impactful lesson plats to awaken the hero in every classroom. We’re using comics to teach middle and high school students how to be 21st Century leaders. If you’re a teacher or parent please check it out.
HB: How can we best support you?
The best way to support us is to follow us and tell a friend. On our website, www.weirdenoughproductions.com, we have links to our newsletter, our Instagram, and all of our other social media. Engage with us there and once we launch our technology platforms you’ll be the first to know. If you like what we’re doing but you’re not a comics person yourself, tell someone who is.