Shaquille O’Neal has been in movies before. The basketball Hall of Famer has starred in Kazaam (1996) and Steel (1997), and more recently appeared in The Lego Movie, Uncle Drew, and What Men Want. But this time around, Shaq will take an active role in the making of a movie.
As reported by Variety’s Matt Donnelly, O’Neal is co-writing an upcoming animated short film titled Headnoise. He’ll also be producing the project through his Jersey Legends Productions company. Additionally, Shaq will narrate the story.
Headnoise will follow two young basketball players with NBA ambitions, Rashaun and Damon. Rashaun is viewed as the more talented prospect by college recruiters. Despite that talent, his true passion is sculpting. Yet plenty of systemic obstacles, including racial prejudice and economic disadvantages, prevent him from fulfilling those artistic aspirations.
“I’m so proud of Headnoise,” O’Neal said. “It is my first time writing and producing my own project. I wanted to call attention to what so many people encounter, especially young adults, who deal with anxiety and stress. It was such an honor to create this piece with such a diverse team of people. Everyone should see it.”
O’Neal is co-writing the screenplay for Headnoise with playwright Donnie F. Wilson (Tearing Down Cabrini-Green). Wilson and Shaq’s business partner Michael Parris are also producers on the project. The film will be directed by veteran animator Rafael Jimenez.
Rapper and music producer Tone — who’s worked with Justin Bieber, Juice Wrld, and Ariana Grande — will provide original songs for Headnoise with composter Matthew Wang. Cedric Williams Jr. and Joshua David King will perform the voice roles for the film.
Will Shaq’s animated film be as successful as former teammate Kobe Bryant’s? The late NBA star’s Dear Basketball won a 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Bryant wrote the film, based on the retirement letter he wrote for The Players’ Tribune, which was directed by longtime Disney animator Glen Keane.
O’Neal isn’t the only Inside the NBA analyst working on a film. Kenny Smith announced on-air in September that he was producing a film on playground basketball legend Pee Wee Kirkland.