Jazmin Truesdale describes herself as just a girl trying to change the world one business at a time.” And it is an apt description. Truesdale is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mino Enterprises. And there is a wide array of companies that fall under the brands umbrella. There is Jazmin Fitness, in which Truesdale offers branding, design, fitness training, marketing and strategy. Jazmin Angels offers branding and consulting in finance, investing, marketing, risk management and strategy. Then there is entertainment company Aza, though which Truesdale develops novel comics and games, among other things.
Speaking on forming Aza, she says, I was creating a fitness video game for my other company Jazmin Fitness and realized that I was making superheroes. I grew up reading comics and I was becoming frustrated with the lack of diversity and the lackluster approach to female superheroes. I also realized that women don’t really read comics, so I interviewed 75 women asking them why they don’t read comics. Using their answers, I created a business model centered around what women and girls wanted: Superheroes for girls.
And superheroes they are for sure.
In one novel comic series, The Keepers are five girls from different ethnic backgrounds. Diversity was important to portray,” says Truesdale. It just made sense to me. I wanted to show true diversity, not tokenism. As a Black woman, I could easily have created a Black universe but that would have perpetuated the same problem as a mostly white universe. I wanted to create something that reflected the global community so that all women felt included. We’re all more alike than we are different and I wanted to show that,” she says.
There are many projects under Aza. I just released the first book which is a ‘novel comic’, a novel with illustrated action scenes. The answers in the interviews showed me that women read novels for the complex storytelling which is difficult to do in a traditional comic book. So I took the best of both literary worlds and merged them together, says Truesdale. The second book will be released in June and the children’s book will be released this summer as well. Aza’s first video game is in development and should be released some time early next year. Also, I am currently being scouted by possible production partners for TV/Film adaptations to begin production next years. she shares.
According to Truesdale, there has been growth in Black comics–but more inclusion is still needed. I do it because there is a demand for it. But the growth is going to come from entrepreneurs like myself. Black comics are in the same predicament as Hollywood. Major players and decision makers like DC and Marvel are playing catch up but on the flip side as long as people keep buying their products they feel no need to change, she says. I’ve also created a program giving back to public schools that put my products in front of youth and increase funding for struggling districts through .azacomics .com/bring-aza-to-your-school.
Starting something like Aza has always been a dream of Truesdale’s. It’s what I’ve secretly wanted to do my entire life. I love storytelling in all its mediums (books, TV, film, video games, theater, etc.), she shares. I never wanted to be an actor. I always wanted to be a creator/producer. It wasn’t until I finished my MBA and started my first company that I realized I could make my dream a reality.
Dream or not, there have still been challenges. Says Truesdale, One challenge has been getting people to understand that it’s not a comic book; it’s a novel. I always have to make sure I have a disclaimer whenever I explain the kind of books I make. I want to develop Aza into a global brand for women’s entertainment. When people think of female superheroes, I want them to think of Aza.