CNN recognizes alumnus Tony Weaver Jr. ’16 as ‘Champion for Change’

Weaver was recognized for his work with his company, Weird Enough Productions, which encourages young people to grasp their true potential.

Tony Weaver Jr. ’16 was one of 10 innovators featured by CNN in this year’s Champions for Change Event.

Champions for Change is a week-long event that highlights the work of individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others with new ideas and creative solutions.

Weaver was selected for his work as the founder of Weird Enough Productions, an education technology company.

Disappointed by the representation of black people in the media, Weaver was inspired to create Weird Enough Productions in 2014 while still a student at Elon. The company produces comic books that partner with lesson plans and other programs that encourage young people to embrace their quirks.

As a double major in theatre arts and strategic communications, Weaver had always been interested in researching media misrepresentation. After winning first prize at the School of Business’s Triple Impact Challenge with Weird Enough Productions, Weaver devoted the rest of his time at Elon to further developing his vision.

“I can’t rest knowing that there are kids that look like me that want nothing more than for someone to look at them and say ‘I believe in you. You’re worth something,’” said Weaver in an interview with CNN.

Tony Weaver Jr. ’16

Weaver was one of three Leadership Prize recipients from Elon in 2015. The prize, which was established through a gift from Isabella Cannon, provides funding for students to use their leadership skills to develop creative solutions.

Weaver continued to expand Weird Enough Productions after he graduated. The company created a series of comics, titled “The Uncommons,” which features black superheroes fighting monsters that young people often face, such as insecurities or past failures. In “The Uncommons”, Weaver aims to produce the same level of excitement from his favorite childhood cartoons, while combating stereotypes at the same time.

“What if we could take that same amazing feeling you get when you watch an anime, and translate it specifically to the way that young people behave in school and the way that they develop?” Weaver asked during the CNN interview.

The company’s goal to reach young adults continued to grow as they developed a series of lessons plans and curricula that were taught alongside the comic books.

“The Uncommons” encourages young people to embrace their quirks.

In 2016, Weaver was named as a Black Male Achievement Fellow by Echoing Green, which identifies exceptional emerging leaders in the world. He was also recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Education list in 2018.

The same year, Weaver was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from Elon for his work with Weird Enough Productions.

In March, the company responded to the pandemic by making their platform free for all teachers, parents, and students through the end of the academic year. The production team also volunteered to lead discussions in digital classrooms.

As a 2020 Champion for Change, Weaver is continuing to challenge the toxic norms that exist in popular culture, and he is determined to use his production company to ensure that all children can see themselves clearly in the media.

“I encourage young people to find what makes them feel empowered. And don’t let anyone take it away from you,” Weaver told CNN.