They realized how such representation is still something the entertainment industry struggles with. While there are a few examples — such as “Black Panther” — black characters, directors and content creators remain a minority in the entertainment world and face additional challenges trying to get there.
So the Godoys started their venture as a way to diversify the field by introducing black characters and stories in their comics.
“We saw the need to do stories about pre-slavery African history. We wanted to connect with that aspect because it’s never been said before. So we’re focusing on all the different countries in Africa and other indigenous groups as well,” said Ms. Godoy, whose company books also extend to Inca and Malaysian culture.
They founded Black Sands to tell stories of strong black characters set in those early days of pre-colonial history. Founded in 2016, their empire has grown to 25 titles. The most popular series is “Black Sands” about prominent black pharaohs and their families in ancient Egypt and the surrounding areas.
In an effort to support their journey to tell these stories in a feature-length, animated way, the couple, both Army veterans, raised $500,000 on ABC’s “Shark Tank” via actor/comedian Kevin Hart and Mark Cuban during the show’s broadcast. in January.
Mr. Hart’s global media company Hartbeat recently formalized a deal with Black Sands Entertainment.
As part of the partnership, Hartbeat will offer consulting services to accelerate Black Sands’ efforts, particularly in film and television. Hartbeat and Black Sands are already in development on an animated feature and series around the flagship “Black Sands.”
“The moment Manuel, Geiszel and the Black Sands Entertainment team stepped into ‘Tank,’ I knew this was the company I wanted to bring into my ecosystem,” Mr. Hart said in a statement.
“The Black Sands team was looking for a partner with the resources to expand its distribution, scale up production, find new creative talent and promote its current and future content portfolio – all areas of Hartbeat’s core business. I am very excited that our team will be able to help Black Sands grow and continue to share their unique stories with audiences around the world.”
The deal follows Mr and Mrs Godoy’s successful Kickstarter campaign, which reached its goal of $10,000 in a minute and earned $100,000 in one day. Black Sands has sold 200,000 print copies of its comics, generating $2 million in sales since its inception.
In addition to their military background – Mr. Godoy was a radar technician and Mrs. Godoy worked in human resources – both are interested in the arts.
“I went to a fashion design school in California and I have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. I worked with Calvin Klein to design for them. … And my husband went to college for video game design. So he is also an artist,” said Mrs. Godoy.
In addition, both have contributed to the writing of many books.
Ms. Godoy, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer, said she was very surprised by the company’s success.
“I thought I would continue in fashion forever,” she said.
But looking back on Black Sands’ early days, she said going independent was the right move.
“Usually when you’re writing novels and things like that, you have to go to the big dogs and they want to change everything,” said Mr. Godoy, Black Sands’ chief executive.
“I remember trying to design this really beautiful book and they wanted to change the character’s name from Godoy to Jefferson just for market research. And I’m like, ‘That’s so stupid.'”
“My surname is Godoy. It’s about my son and my daughter. I wrote about them in a book and they wanted me to change the names. My kids love that I include them in our stories,” she said.
The decision to go on “Shark Tank” was made for several reasons.
“We wanted to get exposure and we wanted to grow and expand the company to take our company to the next level because there’s a lot of red tape involved,” Ms Godoy said.
However, appearing on the show was a tough task.
“They’re not playing games. They want to know your entire history. They’re doing their due diligence. They want to know your credit report, your company’s health, your company’s health. They want to see all your documents related to your company. It’s a very, very, very difficult process. And they were telling us , that during this process a lot of people cut themselves and don’t make it,” said Mrs. Godoy.
They appeared on “Shark Tank”, which was recorded in the summer of 2021 and aired on January 7 with their studio head Teunis De Raat.
They came in asking $500,000 for a 5% stake in their company, but settled for $500,000 for 30% from Messrs. Hart and Cuban. The funny part could be handled by an actor and the technical side of things by Mr. Kubánec.
Mr Godoy shared his enthusiasm for the future of Black Sands with its new investors.
“They will put their name there with us. And now that that’s happened, we can really start making real business plays on the animation production side. We have it out there. Everything is public. Everything is ready. And that in itself allows us to go after key voice actors, go after animation studios and things like that when we couldn’t before,” he said.
Along with its push to expand into animation, Black Sands has launched an app to help black creators reach a larger audience and a podcast to share the secrets of indie publishing success.
The Godoys said they would like to bring their books to more schools as well. They have several southern states on board, but aim to expand further, with Delaware chief among those regions.
“That’s one of the big things we’re focusing on right now. We are currently looking to get into New York and the DC area (schools) in terms of very wide distribution in those locations. We have really done a lot of work to make sure we have books available for these areas,” Mr Godoy said.