A year ago, Amazon-owned Audible announced a deal with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine to develop exclusive audio productions for Audible Originals — the company’s entertainment offering that features audio content that’s longer than podcasts, but shorter than audio books. Now, the first set of these Hello Sunshine original productions are being announced, including performances from music business matriarch Sophia Chang, judge Rosemarie Aquilina and comedian/activist Maysoon Zayid.
Like Hello Sunshine’s other efforts, the Audible Originals focus on highlighting female storytelling, and join the brand’s other projects across books, film, TV, podcasts and streaming services like Apple TV+ and Hulu. In addition, last year Audible and Hello Sunshine collaborated to launch a showcase of Audible audio books, selected by Reese’s Book Club, which similarly focuses on strong, but complex, female characters.
The Audible Original written and performed by Chang, “Baddest Bitch in the Room,” has her telling the story of growing up as the daughter of Korean immigrants in the suburbs of Vancouver, later falling in love with hip-hop music, then starting her career in the music business, where she influenced the careers of major artists, including the Wu Tang Clan.
Judge Aquilina performs “Magnificent Things,” where she talks about her unusual journey to becoming the judge who presided over the trial of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. And Maysoon Zayid performs “Limping on the Edge,” which tells her story of being a Muslim comedian with cerebral palsy, and how she uses her platform for her activism.
“We’re honored to have the opportunity to work with Sophia Chang, Rosemarie Aquilina, and Maysoon Zayid on their audio memoirs,” said Charlotte Koh, head of Digital Media & Unscripted at Hello Sunshine, in a statement. “Each of these singular women have pursued their dreams with conviction, achieved success in the face of improbable odds, and are redefining societal norms around female identity and power. We’re also deeply appreciative of our friends at Audible for working with us to create these incredible listening experiences and providing these women with a premium service that commands a wide and highly engaged audience,” she added.
The launch comes at a time when the Hello Sunshine brand is on the rise thanks to its various high-profile projects, which include HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” and forthcoming video efforts like Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere,” and Apple TV+’s “Are You Sleeping” and “The Morning Show.” The company has a number of films in the works, as well, including “Legally Blonde 3” and those that are being developed from Reese’s Book Club picks, like “Where the Crawdads Sing” and “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.”
Meanwhile, Hello Sunshine’s collaboration with Audible gives its parent Amazon a connection to the media company, which could help it in other areas of its business — like Prime Video potentially, Amazon Books and Amazon Video’s marketplace for film and TV, which benefits from sales of popular titles.
Amazon, by way of its subsidiary Audible, also gains a noteworthy set of audio exclusives at a time when major streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are focusing on podcasting and audio. In addition, the deal indirectly helps boost Amazon’s connected speaker business, as it offers Echo owners the ability to stream exclusive original content from Audible.
The new Audible Original programs will debut starting in late 2019 and early 2020, the company says.