December 19, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Iranian American Shabnam Rezaei was recently featured in Forbes online magazine for her entrepreneurial vision in creating educational entertainment for bilingual children. Despite challenges, Rezaei’s passion and drive have led to her success in the children’s entertainment market.
Formerly employed in Wall Street’s financial service industry, Rezaei has also been devoted to changing the world’s perception of Iranian culture. In 2006, Rezaei created her own online magazine – PersianMirror.com – featuring informative articles, free events listings and a comprehensive business directory for Iranians.
After the online magazine took off, Rezaei was contacted by Iranian American animator, Dustin Ellis, to include an interview on her website about his script for a new animation called Babak & Friends – A First Norooz. Rezaei was Intrigued by the concept, and decided to helped fund and produce the making of Ellis’ cartoon.
The animation gained fame by employing stars in the Iranian American community, such as Catherine Bell and Shoreh Aghdashloo to do the character voiceovers. The success of the first production led Rezaei and her husband to co-found Big Bad Boo Studios. With one animation under their belt, Rezaei’s production company created a TV series called Mixed Nuts, highlighting the adventures of four American kids of various descents (Iranian, Cuban, Indian, and Korean). The TV series aims to promote multiculturalism and give children a global perspective.
Despite Rezaei’s innovation in children’s entertainment, TV networks were often reluctant to air the studio’s cartoons because bilingual shows are considered a niche market and lacking mass appeal for a general audience.
Undeterred, Rezaei decided to forge her own path to success by imitating the online media model made famous by entertainment websites like Netflix and Hulu. Rezaei’s solution, oznoz.com, is an educational entertainment website for bilingual children where users can stream bilingual shows for kids online without the cumbersome commercials that exist on competitor websites like Youtube. In addition to their own original content, the website hosts popular TV shows like Sesame Street and translates them into more than 10 different languages.
Rezaei’s goals for Big Bad Boo Studios have expanded. “It’s not just about teaching acceptance of Iranians, but of all people, no matter the race, nationality or religion. It’s about teaching languages so children grow into adults who can thrive in a global economy,” said Rezaei.
Rezaei’s entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance continues to gain the attention of the business community and stands as an inspiration to Iranian Americans seeking to make a difference.
Click here to read Forbes’ spotlight on Shabnam Rezaei.
Click here to visit oznoz.com.