Wakely is a principal partner at GRACE, a film and television production company with offices in Australia and the U.S. He is the creator, director and a producer of the children’s animated series, Beat Bugs, which is a Netflix Original program, and will be available worldwide on August 3, 2016.
Josh Wakely is an Australian director, screenwriter, producer and published author. A principal partner at Grace: a storytelling company, a film and television production company, Wakely runs offices in Sydney and Los Angeles.
Wakely is the creator, director and co-producer of the Emmy-winning children’s animated television series “Beat Bugs,” a Netflix original program now in its third season, and the animated series “Motown Magic,” which premiered Nov. 20, 2018 on Netflix.
Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of “Beat Bugs” and a 48-minute feature special are available worldwide via Netflix. In addition, the Seven Network and Nick Jr. broadcast the series in Australia.
Inspired by music of The Beatles, "Beat Bugs” follows five best friends who band together to discover life’s most important lessons in an overgrown suburban backyard. For the series, Wakely acquired for Grace the worldwide rights to record covers of the entire Lennon/McCartney ‘Northern Songs’ music catalogue. Featured artists who cover songs in the show include P!nk, Eddie Vedder, Rod Stewart, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and Sia.
A staple on the international awards circuit since its premiere in 2016, Wakely won the 2017 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program for his work on “Beat Bugs,” and the show won the 2017 Leo Award for Best Animation - Program or Series, the 2016 AWGIE Award in Animation and the 2016 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) award for Best Children's Television Series.
The series was nominated for a total of seven Daytime Emmy Awards, Best Animated Program or Series at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, and Outstanding Children's Program at Australia's TV Week Logie Awards.
“Beat Bugs” inspired a line of merchandise that is exclusively available at Target in the U.S. and Tesco in the U.K. The series has also been adapted into a live musical production that will begin touring in the U.S. and Canada in Spring 2020.
Wakely additionally secured for Grace the rights to international music icon Bob Dylan’s entire 600-plus song catalogue and is creating a television drama series based on his music. Wakely considers Dylan one of the best storytellers of all time, and the series will feature characters and settings drawn from the iconic artist’s songs.
Building on the popularity of “Beat Bugs” and the added success of the Dylan deal, Wakely secured additional groundbreaking deals for Grace, locking in rights to the Jobete and Stone Diamond catalogues that comprise hundreds of Motown’s greatest hits and Universal Music Group’s (UMG) extensive recorded master and publishing catalogues to create scripted entertainment based on the characters and themes found within these hallowed songbooks.
For his second Netflix show, Wakely wrote, directed and produced an animated series called “Motown Magic,” based on the Motown classics found in the Jobete and Stone Diamond catalogues, on which Smokey Robinson serves as executive music producer. The family-friendly series, which premiered Nov. 20, 2018 globally on Netflix, features Motown hits in each episode, covered by all-star artists including Ne-Yo, Becky G, BJ the Chicago Kid, Calum Scott, Skylar Grey and Trombone Shorty.
With broad access to UMG’s illustrious collection of catalogues, Wakely is also currently developing three television series for Grace: “27,” “Melody Island,” and “Mixtape” (all working titles), all based on the music found within these catalogues.
Wakely has secured the rights to additional beloved music catalogs and global icons from which he’ll develop a slate of feature films in addition to projects across TV and live, immersive entertainment, to be announced over the next year.
Most comfortable behind the camera and fueled by his passion for both film and music, Wakely wrote and directed “My Mind’s Own Melody,” a cinematic modern musical that came out in 2011. The short film featured original music and lyrics by former Silverchair front-man Daniel Johns and stars Golden Globe winner Lisa Gerrard and was officially selected for and screened at the 2013 New York Film Festival. The project also inspired a TED Talk by Wakely and Johns in which they shed light on their creative process behind making the film.
Wakely also served as a writer on the acclaimed family series “Lockie Leonard,” which was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award in the “Best International Children's Drama Series” category and won an Australian Film Institute award for “Best Children's Drama.”
Wakely was raised in Newcastle, an industrial town three hours north of Sydney on the East Coast of Australia. He grew up in a household that was filled with music, inspiring in him the firm belief that storytelling is the core of both scriptwriting and song-writing, a belief which has guided him throughout his career. He studied acting at Australia’s prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) before transitioning behind the camera and into the world of storytelling.
Wakely is represented by Ziffren Brittenham LLP and splits his time between Los Angeles and Sydney with his wife and two sons.