Abudu calls for more African talent in UK
The UK needs to do more when it comes to featuring African talent in local shows, according to the founder of Nigerian entertainment network EbonyLife and other panellists at C21Media’s Content London conference.
Mo Abudu, whose company recently agreed a development deal with commercial distributor BBC Studios, was speaking about the representation of African voices in TV nowadays.
“We’ve decided to have one office in the UK and one in the US to start looking at African stories set not specifically in Africa,” she said. “We are global citizens and we deserve to have our stories told, wherever we happen to be. I’m quite disappointed with the representation of Africans or even ethnic minorities on our screens in the UK – it’s very limited.”
Dorothy Ghettuba, manager of African series for global SVoD Netflix, was full of praise for her company’s investment in African content, saying it was essentially the only buyer to have taken local stories from Africa seriously.
“We are now seeing that stories can be told by anyone,” she said. “What’s more, they can even watch anywhere. Our talent in Africa doesn’t need to go to Hollywood now – we can nurture them at home and take them to an audience of over 200 million subscribers. We don’t want to be extractive – we want to nurture the whole industry.”
As far as nurturing the industry goes, Ghettuba said that outside investment would be all but useless, as scaling up a business in Africa is too difficult. Her suggestion was to find local partners.
“If you want to go to Zimbabwe or Ghana, find local partners,” she said. “There’s no other answer to how to break into local industries.”
Cecile Gerardin, meanwhile, head of drama at French distributor Canal+ International, felt even more could be done.
“It’s about finding local partners and helping them grow together,” she said. “Teamwork helps create a positive circle and when the quality comes up, so does the number of buyers.”