Raven-Symoné, LeVar Burton Urge ‘Thought-Provoking’ Children’s Shows

“Raven’s Home” star Raven-Symoné, “Reading Rainbow” showrunner LeVar Burton and “Cobra Kai” creators are among the list of honorees at Variety The first ever Family Entertainment Awards, presented by Kidoodle.

Both Raven-Symoné and Burton received the narrative visionary award for their respective long-standing contributions to children’s programming, and their acceptance speeches were linked by an emphasis on the continued need for children’s content that stimulates thoughtful conversation.

“Kids are the smartest people I know,” Raven-Symoné told audience members last night at The West Hollywood Edition. “The family space and the children’s space deserve bold and thought-provoking content. They can handle it.”

Raven-Symoné stars in and directs the production of “Raven’s Home,” a reboot of the 2003 family sitcom “That’s So Raven” that tackles challenging topics like racial profiling and peer pressure in an age-inclusive format.

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“I believe, like Raven, that [children] they deserve the best we have to offer,” Burton echoed during his acceptance speech. “I’ve never been ashamed, I’ve never backed down on what I’m doing in this space, because our kids deserve it.”

Like Raven-Symoné, Burton has also continued to work in the family entertainment space as the founder of LeVar Burton Entertainment and recently signed on to executive produce a documentary called “The Right to Read.” After a storied, 23-year career on the PBS Kids show where he made his name, Burton is seeing the fruits of his labor: just this year, Burton was announced as the inaugural honoree at the Children’s & Family Emmy Awards, which hosted the non-televised portion of the Grammys, led the Rose Parade as grand marshal and even released a master class.

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“Sometimes I don’t ask for permission. I just do what I feel I have to do and that generally works out for me,” Burton said. Variety on the carpet when asked the secret behind the longevity of his extensive career shaping the minds of young children. “But more than anything else, I’ve been devoted to it most of my life.”

Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg — all of whom are credited as creators, writers, executive producers and directors on Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” — received the final honor of the night, presented by series regular Xolo Maridueña. Recognized for their groundbreaking storytelling, the trio revealed during their acceptance speech how they were inspired by 1984’s ‘The Karate Kid’ to create ‘Cobra Kai’, adding life lessons throughout the spinoff in order to make the show accessible to younger generations.

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“With the umbrella of martial arts to bind these [characters’] Traveling together, we’re able to deliver mature themes that aren’t typically explored in newer programming while keeping everything rooted in a popcorn karate fight,” Hurwitz said. “It’s a delicate balance and one we’re very proud to measure from episode to episode.”

Other honorees at the Dec. 8 ceremony included Pete Docter, chief creative officer of Pixar Animation, who received the leadership award from composer Michael Giacchino; Julian Shapiro-Barnum, creator of the web series “Recess Therapy,” who received the Safe Streaming Family Entertainment Hero Award from Kidoodle’s Chief Content Officer, Brenda Bisner. and the creators of “SpongeBob Squarepants,” including SpongeBob voice actor Tom Kenny, who received the franchise award from Nickelodeon Animation president Ramsey Naito.


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