The Speed of Culture Podcast: Winning in Sports and Entertainment

Blake Griffin and Ryan Kalil's success story from pro athletes to producers

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In the latest episode of The Speed of Culture podcast, Blake Griffin and Ryan Kalil, co-founders of Mortal Media, join Suzy founder and CEO Matt Britton to delve into the synergy of sports and business as they share their inspiring journey from athletics to film production. Their story underscores their unwavering passion, discipline and resilience in the face of criticism. Griffin and Kalil also touch on their early projects, including the remake of White Men Can’t Jump, their exciting partnership with Sony Pictures and investment in Swaybox Studios.

Griffin is a 14-year NBA veteran, six-time NBA All-Star and 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year, currently playing with the Boston Celtics. Kalil played 13 seasons in the National Football League, primarily with the Carolina Panthers. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time first-team All-Pro and played in Super Bowl 50.

Together, they are finding success in a new arena with Mortal Media, a production company that produces a number of film and television projects at various studios, networks and streaming services such as Apple, Netflix, Comedy Central, Paramount, Fox and Disney.

Discover Griffin and Kalil’s success story from pro athletes to producers by exploring the key takeaways from the episode.

Key Highlights:

  • 01:46 – 04:21 – From sports to business: Moving from sports to the business world can pose challenges. Griffin and Kalil approached this by recognizing the qualities that contributed to their success in sports and applying them to their new venture. They emphasized traits like humility and hard work from the outset, seeking guidance from accomplished mentors. Embracing their status as rookies in the business world, they approached it with open-mindedness, seeing it as an opportunity to acquire knowledge and grow.
  • 12:36 – 15:09 – Reimagining White Men Can’t Jump: Collaborations with renowned names like Kenya Barris and Jack Harlow led to projects like White Men Can’t Jump. Their journey began in 2017 when they met with Barris to reimagine the 1992 classic, considering how sports and culture had evolved since then. Overcoming obstacles, from pitching to Barris to navigating the Fox-Disney merger, proved challenging. Nevertheless, the excitement during filming was palpable, especially as the film garnered impressive streaming numbers and received positive feedback from Hulu and Disney. These trials and triumphs, reminiscent of their athletic careers, taught Griffin and Kalil valuable lessons in resilience and adaptability.
  • 18:30 – 19:31 – A fresh take on animation for the next generation: Mortal Media recently announced an exciting, strategic investment in Swaybox Studios, a renowned animation studio located in Louisiana. Both Griffin and Kalil share a deep passion for animation, and with children of their own, they understand the demand for content that families can enjoy together. What sets Swaybox Studios apart is its inventive approach to animation, which not only brings fresh perspectives but also ensures faster and more cost-effective results. 
  • 23:29 – 25:20According to Griffin and Kalil, the key to success lies in a combination of discipline, passion and the ability to listen and adapt. They emphasize the importance of discipline in one’s daily routine and stress the need to be passionate about your pursuits. Moreover, they encourage individuals to be open to criticism and advice while staying true to their own vision. Ultimately, if you’re deeply passionate about something, the challenges will feel like a natural part of the journey, and you’ll find a way to overcome them.