When Davon Clark read his self-published children’s book at local schools, he was often asked which company sent him.
But the 2007 Temple University theater alumnus made the visits on his own because of his passion for children’s education. Now, he’s pitching an educational children’s animated series to major television networks, like Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS Kids.
“I used to teach in the school system, and I found a lack of kids wanting to learn, especially when it came to literacy,” said Clark, who has worked as a substitute teacher in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. “I want kids to be able to comprehend and not just memorize.”
Clark’s children’s book series, “The Adventures of Prada Enchilada,” inspired his children’s multimedia company ADC Kid, which aims to make educational content accessible and fun for children. Clark wrote “Prada Enchilada” in 2012 and launched his company three years later.
The main characters are the dog Prada Enchilada and the cat Mimi Tortellini, both of whom are 7 years old. Olli the Owl is an 8-year-old who always throws off Prada and Mimi by causing trouble. The characters go on many adventures like exploring the solar system, traveling the seven continents and going to the mall.
Clark felt inspired to take his brainchild a step further and turn “Prada Enchilada” into an animated show after receiving positive feedback from kids and teachers at the schools. Geared toward children ages 3-6, the “Prada Enchilada” animated series aims to help viewers identify objects, learn basic math and fun facts.
There are four episode scripts and one seven-minute, 40-second clip from the first episode that was released. Clark said he hopes to finish the rest of the pilot episode using an online crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark.
“As an African-American, we see ourselves in animation, but behind the scenes, they weren’t created by us,” Clark said.
In a study of more than 1,500 animated children’s characters, only 5.6 percent were African-American, according to the news outlet The Conversation. But Black people account for 13.4 percent of the population.
To make “Prada Enchilada,” Clark reached out to his friends Marquiz Moore, a 2010 theater alumnus, and Marion Toro, a 2008 theater and English alumnus, about two years ago.
Toro, who voices Mimi, said she was ready to jump right in when Clark reached out about the show.
“I am proud to be a part of a project that is setting a new level and that someone took time and believed in me,” Toro said. “I get to be my authentic self. I love that [Mimi] helps me bring about joy, and I hope that I can bring about joy to someone else’s world.”
Moore is equally pleased to voice his character.
“[Prada] is always excited,” he said. “He is excited to learn, he loves making new friends, he loves showing people how to do things as well.”
Clark said his show takes a different approach from Bill Cosby’s “Little Bill,” a kid’s show that ran from 1999-2004 and featured an African-American main character who learned lessons like resisting peer pressure. While Cosby’s show centered on teaching kids about love, compassion and morality, Clark intends to focus more on math, fun facts and increasing literacy, Clark said.
“While ‘Little Bill’ was an African-American show, it wasn’t focused on education,” Moore said. “To hit that milestone is a great thing and a blessing to do.”
For Clark, it’s just as important to represent diversity behind the scenes as it is on screen. He said people of color need to know they can work in media fields.
“It’s important for people to see themselves so that they know that they can do it too,” Clark added. “That’s the point of doing ‘Prada Enchilada.’”
So far, ADC Kids raised more than $8,200 toward its $25,000 goal. The fundraiser ends on Nov. 23.
“This is definitely going to be a great stepping stone for not just me, but for my other cast members as well,” Moore said. “Just to pursue our passions is amazing.”