Archewell Productions, the Netflix-based shingle launched by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is getting into the animation business. Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, is the creator behind “Pearl,” described as a “family series that centers on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by a variety of influential women from history.”
Credited as The Duchess of Sussex in the release, Markle will executive produce “Pearl” (which is a working title) with David Furnish (“Rocketman,” “Gnomeo & Juliet”), Carolyn Soper (“Sherlock Gnomes,” “Tangled”), Liz Garbus (“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”), and Dan Cogan (“Icarus,” “The Apollo”). Amanda Rynda (“DC Super Hero Girls,” “The Loud House”) has been tapped as showrunner and executive producer.
“Like many girls her age, our heroine Pearl is on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to overcome life’s daily challenges,” Markle said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix, and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history. David Furnish and I have been eager to bring this special series to light, and I am delighted we are able to announce it today.”
Added Furnish: “I am delighted that we are finally able to announce this exciting animated series. Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and I are deeply passionate about bringing the inspirational and positive stories of extraordinary women from around the world to a global audience of all ages. The team collaborating on the series are first class, and Netflix are the perfect partner.”
“Pearl” is the first animated series coming out of Archewell Productions. Last fall, Markle and Prince Harry signed a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce documentaries, feature films, scripted television shows and children’s series.
“An exciting tale that weaves together fantasy and history, ‘Pearl’ focuses on a young girl who learns to step into her own power when she embarks on a heroic adventure and meets important women from history along the way. We’re excited to develop this animated series with our partners at Archewell Productions and Story Syndicate,” said Megan Casey, director of original animation at Netflix.
At Netflix, Archewell is also developing “Heart of Invictus,” a docuseries chronicling the global adaptive sports competition that Prince Harry founded. Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara are working on that project, which focuses on a group of international competitors, all service members who experienced life-changing injuries or illnesses on the road to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, though the competition will now take place in 2022.
“Pearl” comes as Markle also recently published her first children’s book, “The Bench,” which was released on June 8.
As for “Pearl,” Soper said, “Animation is the perfect medium to bring this fun, heartfelt and inspiring story to life. Pearl is a character in which everyone will recognize a piece of themselves while absolutely rooting for her as she discovers so much about the world, both past and present, and how she fits into it. I am thrilled to be working with Meghan and such an illustrious team.”
Garbus and Cogan will produce “Pearl” through their Story Syndicate production company, which they founded in 2019.
“I have always been drawn to stories of strong women overcoming challenges and realizing their power,” Garbus said. “The idea of doing this in the context of a children’s series, one that is both entertaining and enlightening, with the strong woman Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, at its heart is thrilling. I have long wanted to work with the brilliant David Furnish, and I am so happy to be joining forces with him, Carolyn, Amanda and Archewell Productions to bring this project to the world.”
Said showrunner Rynda, who was selected for Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch in 2018: “I’m so energized to be helping execute Meghan’s creative vision in showcasing an empowerment story that entertains and inspires. The character journey would have delighted me as a child, and I’m overjoyed to be on the creative team bringing forward themes I’m passionate about as an adult.”