Women in Nigerian TV: Mo Abudu

By Gabriella Opara
March 8, 2018


“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness. Never, ever take no for an answer; keep pushing until you get results.” Mo Abudu.

Mo Abudu at the premiere of The Wedding Party 2

Content Nigeria is celebrating International Women’s Day this month by focusing on notable women in the country’s TV industry.

We kick off with Mo Abudu, a woman whose tenacity, zeal and passion have helped her to break through frontiers in the world of media.

Veering into the world of broadcasting from unrelated business ventures such as human resources (HR) and hotel management, Mosunmola Abudu has proven to the world that she achieves whatever she sets her mind to.

Abudu, 53, popularly known as Mo Abudu, is one of Africa’s leading media moguls and a philanthropist. She gained a master’s degree in HR management from the University of Westminster in London. Afterwards, she worked at ExxonMobil for 10 years as the head of HR before starting up her HR development company, Vic Lawrence & Associates.

However, she later sought to pursue her dreams of becoming a TV presenter by going to the London Film School. Upon gaining a degree, Abudu launched her TV talkshow, Moments With Mo, in 2009. She interviewed many notable personalities, such as Wole Soyinka, Hillary Clinton, Mohammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida. Her talkshow addressed a range of topics, from lifestyle to politics.

Moments With Mo later became the first syndicated TV talkshow on African regional television. It airs in more than 40 countries across Africa, as well as on EbonyLife TV hosted by Vimbai Mutinhiri, Bolanle Olukanni and Tallaulah Doherty.

Abudu was the brains behind the now defunct reality TV show The Debaters, a competitive show where participants live together for 13 weeks and debate topical issues and the winner was given a cash prize. The Debaters aired for three seasons.

In 2013, Abudu became the first African woman to own a TV network, EbonyLife TV. EbonyLife airs original programmes and TV drama series such as Moments, EL Now, Men’s Corner, Sons of The Caliphate and Fifty.

In 2014, she debuted her first film, Fifty, at the Toronto Film Festival, to much acclaim. In 2016, EbonyLife Films coproduced The Wedding Party, a movie that still holds the record for being the highest grossing film in Nigeria. Its sequel premiered in Dubai in December 2017 and was also a record hit.

Abudu was also behind Desperate Housewives Africa, a pan-African adaptation of popular US drama series Desperate Housewives, as executive producer. Furthermore, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is currently in cinemas across the country.

Abudu has been described has ‘Africa’s Oprah’ and Forbes magazine recognised her as the first African woman to own a pan-African TV channel. She was also listed in the Hollywood Reporter has one of 25 most powerful women in global TV.

Abudu has received numerous honours, such as the Institute of Directors Fellowship Award and Entrepreneurial Award (2017), City People Movie Special Recognition Award(2017 and 2015) and City People Movie Award for Best Movie Producer of the Year (2017).

Abudu continues to scale heights few dare dream about. She is fearless, always looking for the next mountain to climb and can’t wait to see and experience what’s in store next.

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