For children of immigrants, growing up in the United States can sometimes be a difficult juggling maneuver of embracing one’s family’s culture at home while participating in and adopting the American culture at school and among peers. Parents struggle too, by attempting to keep their children interested in their heritage all the while striving not to alienate U.S. customs. Indeed, this is the story of Babak, the self-conscious nine year old from Iran, for Damaris, the studious Cuban, and for Sanjay, a bollywood star in the making from India. Babak, Damaris, and Sanjay are just a few of the cast members of Big Bad Boo’s Mixed Nutz, an animated PBS show that celebrates the diversity of the U.S. by following these kids as they discover themselves through the trials and tribulations of going to school.
Shabnam Rezaei and her team of 140 animators are the brains behindMixed Nuts, which is developed by Norooz Productions, a sister company of Big Bad Boo Studios. Norooz Production’s much celebrated animated cartoon Babak & Friends – A First Norooz debuted back in 2004 and has sold over 20,000 DVDs and been screened in more than forty film festivals throughout the world. The success led Rezaei and her team to create a sequel book, Babak & Friends – A Visit From Maman Bozorg, but sales of the book were unimpressive. “TV provides a wider distribution platform,” Rezaei explains, “[so] we took Babak and gave him friends from Korea, Cuba, and India.” In addition to being shown on PBS, Mixed Nutz has been distributed to 15 channels worldwide.
Rezaei and Big Bad Boo studios are now busy working on their second series, 1001 Nights, based on the well-known epic Persian tales such as Aladdin, and Ali Baba & Sinbad. “We have a real challenge as hyphenated Americans to compete with what our kids consume through pop culture,” Rezaei explains as her motivation for the new series, “so we have to make our own history and traditions fun and interesting”. Fifty-two, 11 minute episodes of 1001 Nights have been created and the show has distributors from over 50 countries (including Teletoon Canada, CBC, Discovery Kids Asia).
All of Big Bad Boo’s cartoons and comics can be bought or streamed online at Oznoz (www.oznoz.com).