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Ex-Disney Duo Buy Stake in Will and Jada Smith’s Company

By Mary Biekert and Liana Baker

 Former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs have acquired a minority stake in Westbrook Inc., the entertainment company founded by Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. 

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith attend the 2021 AFI Fest Closing Night Premiere of Warner Bros. “King Richard” at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 14, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Candle Media, Mayer and Staggs’ company, is investing around $60 million for a bit more than 10% of Westbrook, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the terms are private. 

Westbrook, founded a little more than two years ago, produces movie and TV shows, including potential Oscar contender “King Richard” and “Welcome to Earth,” a nature series that airs on Disney+. It’s also the studio behind “Red Table Talk,” a chat show from Pinkett Smith that appears on Facebook. 

“Westbrook is the realization of our dream to give artists from all backgrounds equal opportunities to pursue their creative visions and share their stories,” the Smiths said in a statement Tuesday. “We are pleased to join forces with Kevin, Tom and Blackstone to accelerate this mission.”

Mayer and Staggs are building a new media company with funds from money manager Blackstone Inc. The two have been looking to invest in up-and-coming entertainment companies with a big online presence and creative executives who will stay around to manage them. 

They executed a spree of deals last year, acquiring actress Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, in August, in a deal that valued the business at $900 million. They also bought Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., the company behind the popular YouTube children’s channels Cocomelon and Blippi, in a deal valued at around $3 billion. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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