Qai Qai — the social media sensation inspired by the favorite doll of Serena Williams’ daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. — has signed a deal with Republic Records: Kids & Family through a new partnership with internet-first animation studio Invisible Universe.
The companies have joined forces to create original music starring Qai Qai, who has amassed more than five million fans across social media. To celebrate the news, Qai Qai released the song “Dancing on the Moon” on Friday. It features 12-year-old Broadway sensation Sydney Elise Russell, who performed in The Lion King and Frozen, as the voice of Qai Qai. The track was produced by Grammy-nominated hitmaker Johnny Goldstein, who has worked with David Guetta, the Black Eyed Peas and Coi Leray.
More from The Hollywood Reporter
“Olympia loved seeing Sydney Russell perform on Broadway in The Lion King and is so excited to listen to her sing as Qai Qai on the upcoming album,” Williams says in a statement. “Watching Invisible Universe and Republic Records: Kids & Family make this first song a reality has been amazing. Our family can’t wait to listen, sing along and dance to Qai Qai’s new music.”
Qai Qai, pronounced “Kway-kway,” has a love for music and dance and was developed by Invisible Universe in partnership with Williams, who is one of the company’s investors along with Seven Seven Six, a venture firm founded by Alexis Ohanian, Williams’ husband, Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC and others.
“The alliance between Qai Qai and Republic Records: Kids & Family felt seamless from the beginning,” says Bree Bowles, senior vice president of the children’s label. “Music discovery via social media is undeniable and given that Qai Qai found her audience on TikTok, implementing a music strategy for the brand presents an exciting opportunity. Sydney’s showstopping voice brought the music vision to life, and we’ve been able to craft something that can be enjoyed by the whole family with the support of some incredible producers and songwriters.”
Republic Records: Kids & Family launched in 2022 and caters to audiences 12 and under and has partnerships with NBC and Nickelodeon that has landed them such acts as Erin & Aaron, Young Dylan star Dylan Gilmer, That Girl Lay Lay and the cast of The Loud House. The label is a division of Republic Records, home to artists like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Morgan Wallen, Nicki Minaj and more.
“Kids & Family is a natural extension of Republic Records and our goal always remains the same. It’s not about making ‘kids’ music, it’s about making great music accessible to all audiences. Qai Qai is a perfect example of this initiative,” says Monte Lipman, founder and CEO of Republic Records.
Invisible Universe has made a name in children’s animation and entertainment with its star-backed ventures from Aniston, whose Clydeo is a cooking- and foodie-series based on Aniston’s gray Schnauzer mix. The studio has also produced Squeaky & Roy, from TV personalities and social stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, as well as Ember, which is based on the daughter of the ruler of the underworld.
“Music truly resonates with Qai Qai’s audience and we see huge engagement on content featuring Qai Qai dancing or singing. The collaboration with Republic Records: Kids & Family and Johnny Goldstein feels like a natural evolution for the franchise and a way to more deeply engage Qai Qai’s massive community of fans,” says Tricia Biggio, co-founder and CEO of Invisible Universe. “Qai Qai has broken boundaries on social media for years now and I can’t wait to watch her win a Grammy someday!”
Best of The Hollywood Reporter