SSM Alum Named 35 Under 35 Rising Executive by The Hollywood Reporter

December 14, 2020

Last month The Hollywood Reporter announced its annual list, “35 Under 35 Rising Executives,” which recognizes standout up-and-comers in the entertainment industry. Shattuck-St. Mary’s 2005 alum, John Agbaje, is among the list’s impressive players, which includes agents, managers, lawyers, and executives.

John, Director of Animation & Development at FX Networks at the time of this list, graduated from The Wharton School in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He subsequently moved to D.C. to work at a defense and aerospace consulting firm, while continuing to nurture his passion for animation on the side. THR mentions that during this time “Agbaje and his brother Charles, now an exec at Cartoon Network, spent nights and weekends creating a graphic novel, Project Zero.”

John went on to pursue an MBA from Harvard Business School, simultaneously fueling his creative fire with self-produced animation. He and his brother Charles ’08, also an SSM alum, co-founded Central City Tower, an independent comic book publishing and animation studio. Together they developed original content for over 30 unique graphic novel and 2D animation projects, including the African-themed cartoon film Spider Stories, for which they successfully raised over $30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. After a cross-country move to L.A., John held positions at Illumination Entertainment and Fox Networks Group, before landing at FX.

After receiving the news that he made the list, John shared on Instagram, “Very honored to be part of the club and in such impressive company. […] Execs are the gatekeepers for which stories get told. To that end, this next gen must be the shepherds of progress. A new guard. The work continues.”

John was recognized for his leading-edge work at FX, having had a hand in the development of over 40 projects, including the hit comedy series Dave, and Emmy-nominated miniseries Oh Jerome, No. He also helped launch the half-hour weekly comedy showcase Cake, which delivers animated and live-action programming dubbed by FX as a “diverse array of narratives from storytellers both new and established.”

While a student at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, John was actively involved in a multitude of extracurriculars, including Art Club, Mathletes, Band, and several interscholastic sports. His emerging leadership skills were evident even then, serving as a Proctor, a member of the Gold Key Club, and in the Student Vestry. John’s achievements during his four years at our School were numerous, earning him awards for excellence in academics, visual arts, and School service, among others.

Looking forward, John has also recently been hired as the Senior Vice President of Animation with Bad Robot, a production company overseen by J.J. Abrams.

We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our outstanding alumni who are rising stars in their careers and exceptional role models for our students to follow. For more SSM alumni stories, you can read about John’s sister Esther Agbaje ’03, recently elected Minnesota Representative, as well as two alums recognized in Forbes “30 Under 30” lists, Grace Paulsen ’09 and Kelly Kiewel ’10.