In a scene from the show Iwájú set in Lagos, Nigeria, children Tola and Kole are running through an outdoor market. Tola wears an orange T-shirt with purple overalls, while Kole dons a yellow T-shirt with orange, brown, and green detailing, paired with green cargo shorts, sandals, and a black fanny pack adorned with neon blue strips. Accompanying them is Otin, a purple and orange robotic pet lizard. In the backdrop, towering buildings loom over hovering vehicles.

Meet the Characters of Disney Animation’s Iwájú

By Cecilia Sarantopoulos

Set in futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, and debuting on Disney+ on February 28, Iwájú tells a beautiful coming-of-age story that follows Tola, a young girl from the Lagos island where the wealthy live, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech aficionado who lives on the mainland. Together, they unravel the enigmatic truths and perils concealed within their different worlds, often grappling with the intersection of their disparate upbringings.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Walt Disney Animation Studios teams up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali to take viewers on a unique journey with striking visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos. “We didn’t take on tropes of science fiction for the sake of incorporating flying cars into the narrative,” production designer Hamid Ibrahim tells D23. The collaboration aims to authentically capture the essence of African culture and storytelling while pushing the boundaries of animation and technology.

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Tola sits inside a flying car, gazing out of the window. Her hands rest on the window ledge as she observes another airborne vehicle in the sky with wonder. Tola wears a pink smartwatch and a vibrant blue and purple dress adorned with colorful detailing.

“If you ever get a chance to visit [Lagos], you will see so many things you do not think are possible,” says cultural consultant Tolu Olowofoyeku. “Lagos has this certain ‘audacity,’ where, if someone wants to make something happen, it will happen,” he adds, remarking on the essence of the Lagosian spirit. This vibrant metropolis pulsates with an undeniable energy, where innovation thrives amidst the bustling streets and towering skyscrapers. It’s a city where every corner tells a story of resilience and creativity.

Below, we introduce many of the faces of the Iwájú universe, with comments from the show’s director, Olufiayo Ziki Adeola.

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Tola and Kole enjoy Nigerian cuisine at an outdoor marketplace. Tola wears an orange T-shirt with purple overalls, while Kole sports a yellow T-shirt with orange, brown, and green accents, paired with green cargo shorts, sandals, and a black fanny pack adorned with neon blue strips. To their left stands a woman managing a food stall, dressed in a purple dress. Otin, Tola’s robotic pet lizard, discreetly lurks behind a pole for Tola’s protection. In the background, various market stalls display legumes, vegetables, and cardboard boxes, bustling with local activity.

Tola Martins
Voiced by Simisola Gbadamosi, Tola, the protagonist of Iwájú, embodies the spirit of an ambitious 10-year-old who challenges the status quo and envisions a better world. She serves as an inspiration to those around her, leveraging her empathy and keen perception to forge meaningful connections with others. “Going from 9 to 10 [years old] is a huge milestone for many young people,” says Adeola, “and it highlights one of the important themes of the show, which is the transition of innocence to experience.”

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Tunde Martins and Tola are embracing with their eyes closed. Tunde is wearing a pink, long-sleeve tunic with a green trim, and Tola is wearing an orange T-shirt and purple overalls.

Tunde Martins
Tunde Martins, voiced by Dayo Okeniyi, is Tola‘s father. His dedication to work, coupled with pressure from his ambitious boss, leaves him with scant moments to spare for his daughter. As a prosperous tech executive, Tunde is deeply immersed in the creation of robotic protectors designed to counteract a rising trend of abductions.

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Bode DeSousa is sitting on a chair with a frustrated expression. He is wearing an orange Abgadas, a bracelet and necklace with red and blue beads, and several gold rings. Absentmindedly, he fiddles with a gold chain. The backdrop showcases the mainland of Lagos, with its towering buildings and bustling roads.

Bode DeSousa
Femi Branch voices Bode DeSousa, who, standing at seven feet tall, emerges as a towering, compelling figure in the show. Raised in modest conditions, he orchestrates an underground criminal syndicate. While he perceives himself akin to a modern-day Robin Hood, in reality, he hoards the wealth he amasses and evades accountability for his actions, attributing everything to the affluent class.

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Tola and Kole are looking at each other playfully. Tola is wearing an orange T-shirt and purple overalls, and Kole is wearing a yellow T-shirt with orange, brown, and green accents. In the background is a car, with Otin, Tola’s robotic pet lizard, standing on the car’s roof, looking at the two children.

Kole Adesola
In Iwájú, Kole Adesola, voiced by Siji Soetan, is Tola’s closest friend. He comes from modest beginnings and works in Tunde and Tola’s household, taking care of gardening and other tasks. With the health of Kole’s mother declining and few prospects for improvement, he faces a situation that challenges his true nature. “Kole and Tola represent two different walks of life,” says Adeola. “The dichotomies that exist between the two characters serve as the foundation for how their relationship evolves.”

In a scene from the show Iwájú, Otin, Tola’s robotic pet lizard, is perched on a desk, manipulating the buttons of a device that activates a purple holographic screen displaying various metrics of Otin’s programming. Otin is predominantly purple with orange accents. In the background, the office window reveals a glimpse of Tola’s backyard, filled with green-leaved plants.

Otin, voiced by Weruche Opia, is a robotic pet lizard given by Tunde to an unsuspecting Tola. Initially created for child security, Otin undergoes significant development throughout the series. As she grapples with the complexities of the world, Otin evolves to possess greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding beyond her basic programming.