Kevin Hart has had a busy few years. The comedian and “Celebrity Prank Wars” co-host has produced and starred in four Netflix films, made his dramatic television debut in “True Story” and inked an exclusive streaming deal with the Roku Channel, all while serving as chairman of his own comedy-focused production company.
These are just some of the reasons why the Philadelphia native has been honored as the Entertainment Person of the Year at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, held each year in France to recognize creative success in advertising, communications and entertainment. Hart will formally accept his award during a ceremony on June 20.
Founded in 1954, Cannes Lions has celebrated the impacts of media and communications for decades. But it has only honored people in entertainment since 2019, and due to conflicts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic the award has been given out just twice. Previous honorees include Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos and “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels.
“We’re delighted to honor Kevin Hart with this year’s Entertainment Person of the Year accolade,” said Philip Thomas, chairman of Cannes Lions. “He is a trailblazing entrepreneur and through his creation of Hartbeat he has shown an unwavering commitment to building the most innovative and inclusive comedic storytelling company. This is the kind of creativity that acts as an inspiration to others and we’re pleased to recognize the important role that Kevin is playing in the entertainment space.”
“I am so honored to receive this award and be recognized for my work in the entertainment and advertising space,” Hart said. “It’s been incredible to work with Hartbeat’s branded entertainment studio and marketing consultancy, along with my brand partners, to take comedy in advertising to the next level and craft culturally relevant campaigns that unite people through laughter.”
The comedian founded Hartbeat in 2009, fresh off the release of his debut comedy special, “I’m A Grown Little Man.” Since then, the company has focused on creating comedic television shows, films, podcasts and other projects.
In addition to Hart’s own comedy specials, Hartbeat has produced all of the film and television projects under the comedian’s 8-figure deal with Netflix, including “Me Time” with Mark Wahlberg, “Fatherhood” with Alfre Woodard and “True Story” with Wesley Snipes.
The company also produces Hart’s work on the Roku Channel, which includes projects that were originally meant to stream exclusively on the now-defunct vertical video platform Quibi, like “Die Hart,” a television show about a fictionalized version of himself vying to become an action movie hero. The series was renewed for a third season earlier this year.
Hartbeat also produces radio shows like “LOL Radio” on Sirius XM and “Gold Minds,” which Hart hosts with a special celebrity guest each week. In addition to TV shows like “Cold As Balls,” “Hart to Heart” and FXX’s “Dave,” with rapper and comedian Lil Dicky, a Montgomery County native, the company works on game shows like “Celebrity Prank Wars” and “Celebrity Game Face.”
“Women Write Now,” a comedic screenwriting fellowship for Black women looking to advance in the industry, is a partnership between Hartbeat and the Sundance Institute that champions Black female comedy writers. It premieres three short films at the Sundance Film Festival each year.
Hart’s latest Netflix film, “Lift,” will premiere Aug. 25. His car club series, “Muscle Car Crew,” is moving from MotorTrend’s streaming service to the Roku Channel for its second season, though no release date has been confirmed.
Earlier this year, officials with the festival announced that filmmaker Spike Lee would receive the inaugural Creative Maker of the Year award. He will deliver a fireside speech alongside director and frequent collaborator Barry Alexander Brown at this year’s festival.
Cannes Lions runs from June 19–21 in Cannes, France. Fans can keep up with the awards ceremony and accompanying seminars this summer on the company’s Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts.