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Tom Tom & Virginia Festival of the Book Announce Inaugural Festival Writer Residency

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA: The Tom Tom Founders Festival and Virginia Festival of the Book announced a collaborative writer residency that will start this Thursday, March 23 at the Virginia Festival of the Book, and will conclude at the Tom Tom Founders Festival on Sunday, April 16. Roye Okupe, an acclaimed Nigerian writer, will participate in programs during both festivals as well an an interstitial program between the two. Okupe’s debut graphic novel series, E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, is superhero story set in a futuristic Nigeria and has been featured on CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, NBC, The Guardian, ABC7, BBC, The Huffington Post, Mashable and more.

Roye Okupe’s residency will include the following events:

  1. Virginia Festival of the Book (March 24, 2pm, CitySpace) Okupe will participate in a program, “Perspectives from Africa,” moderated by PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Jeffery Renard Allen, in discussion with Okey Ndibe (Never Look an American in the Eye), and Yewande Omotoso (The Woman Next Door) on how Africa influences the unique perspectives that they bring to their writing and creative work. Okupe will also be participating in a book signing later that afternoon (March 24, 4pm, Telegraph Art & Comics).

  1. Residency (April TBD, Boys & Girls Club) Okupe will lead an inspirational workshop with local youth from the Boys & Girls Club and City of Promise. Okupe will discuss the lessons he’s learned throughout his career and lead participants through creating their own superheroes.

  1. Tom Tom Founders Festival (April 14 & April 15) Okupe will participate in the Founders Summit Luncheon: Design and Branding (April 14, 12pm, Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar)  alongside Founders Summit keynote, Craig Dubitsky of eos Lip Balm and Hello Products, and Todd Wickersty of Storyware. The following day Okupe will host a talk and book signing.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Roye Okupe is a creative specialist who holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer science from The George Washington University. His passion for animation led him to found YouNeek Studios in 2012, an avenue that would allow him pursue his dream of creating a diverse library of superheroes. Under that umbrella, Roye wrote, produced and directed several animated productions including, but not limited to, 2D/3D animated short films, TV commercials, show openers, music videos and much more. These productions have allowed Roye to attain much prestigious recognitions such as being #5 on Ventures Africa’s list of 40 African innovators to watch (2016) as well as being part of New African Magazine’s 100 most influential Africans of 2016.

About the Tom Tom Foundation and Founders Festival

The Tom Tom Foundation is the nonprofit organization that hosts the annual Tom Tom Founders Festival. Supporting high-impact events throughout the year, the Foundation seeks to empower the innovators whose creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to community help ensure a better future for us all. Now in its sixth year, the action-packed Founders Festival is held during the week of April 13 (Thomas Jefferson’s birthday) in Charlottesville, VA. Featuring local music, art, and food, as well as high-stakes startup competitions and high-impact conversations with business, entrepreneurial, and academic and civic leaders. Tom Tom events attracted more than 48,000 attendees in 2016. Learn more at and the Founding Cville Project

About the Virginia Festival of the Book

A signature program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) and the Virginia Center for the Book, the Virginia Festival of the Book brings readers and writers together in Charlottesville, Va. for a five-day program of mostly free events including author readings, book signings, panel discussions, programs for children, and more. The 23rd annual Festival will be held March 22-26, 2017. The Festival has consistently attracted audiences of more than 20,000 from more than forty states each spring, with an estimated local economic impact of about $4 million annually. To learn more, visit


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