Producers hope to help kids deal with social diversity

Story of Shabnam Rezaei and Aly Jetha.

Yvonne Zacharias, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, May 03, 2008

Shabnam Rezaei and Aly Jetha have recently opened Big Bad Boo animation studio in Vancouver. Sanjay is a kid who has just moved to North America from Mumbai. He is a sarcastic comedian who loves Bollywood. He also wants everybody to agree with him.

Damaris is Cuban and Spanish-speaking but she has been living outside of Cuba for most of her life. She is a shy loner who escapes this world through books, making her the exact opposite of the typical Spanish cartoon character.

These are two of the eight lovable characters from around the world who make up the eclectic, colourful cast of a new animated television show for kids being produced here called Mixed Nutz. Its aim is to make kids curious about different cultures through entertainment.

“This business is something we believe can help change the world,” said Shabnam Rezaei, who launched it with her husband, Aly Jetha. The pair, who have just moved here from New York City, come from as diverse backgrounds as their characters.

Rezaei, who speaks five languages, was born in Iran, but moved to Austria when she was 10 to attend an international school. She and her brother were sent there to avoid the Iran-Iraq war.

At the age of 18, she moved to the U.S. to get a degree from the University of Pennsylvania in computer science and literature.

“When I graduated, I went to New York to get a good job like a good Iranian girl would in a good solid field with a good salary. That was in financial software,” she said in an interview in a trendy Yaletown warehouse where the pair have set up an animation studio.

She cruised through various companies like Deloitte Touche, also setting up shop for a company called Exis in London for three years. Each company tried to hold her interest but she quickly grew bored each time.

Jetha was born in Ndola, Zambia. His family lived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, for two generations. His forefathers are Indian from Gujarat and Ismaili. He moved to Vancouver when he was two.

Talk about multicultural.

Complete at the source: Vancouver Sun

Author: ismailimail

Civil society media.   Find Ismailimail blog on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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