Tag Archives: EbonyLife Media

Mo Abudu named Harvard executive fellow

Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media, has been appointed as an executive fellow at Harvard Business School (HBS) in the US.

The news comes months after the Lagos-based media company was selected as a case study at HBS and was taught to more than 1,000 MBA students as part of the required curriculum classes for all first-year students.
The school’s Executive Fellows Programme leverages the expertise of outstanding practitioners, including alumni, each of whom partners with HBS faculty members to bring their experience in business into the MBA programme and the school.

HBS executive fellows comprise non-faculty affiliates who contribute to the school through a rich set of co-curricular and curricular activities, based on their work and life experiences.

Abudu said: “I’m excited to let you know that I have accepted an appointment from Harvard Business School, as an executive fellow. Truly, it is an honour and a privilege for me to take up this appointment as an HBS executive fellow and to share experiences. My primary focus will be on research, with some instruction and advisory/coaching for MBA students.

“I will be producing a unique, fascinating and exciting project, in collaboration with HBS faculty, during my time here. I look forward to telling you more about this project soon. My special thanks to Professor Henry McGee, Professor Andy Wu, Professor Feng Zhu and the entire Harvard Business School team for making this happen.

“Last but not least, I still remain the CEO of the EbonyLife Group. This appointment is part-time for an agreed period. I will spend my time between Boston, London, Los Angeles and Lagos over the next few months.”

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EbonyLife’s Abudu directs short films

Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media, has started production on two short fiction films she is directing, titled Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife in Yoruba).

Mo Abudu

Her Perfect Life tells the story of a 39-year-old who seems to have the perfect life but wants to end it all. It stars Pearl Thusi, Joseph Benjamin, Omawunmi Dada, Uzo Osimpka, Christian Paul and Mary Lazarus.

Iyawo Mi follows a couple who face tragic consequences after the wife starts having hallucinations. Its stars Adedimeji Lateef, Bolaji Ogunmola, Segun Arinze and Jude Chukwuka.

According to Abudu, both films highlight mental health challenges, an issue hardly spoken about in Nigerian society.

“As many of you know, I went to the London Film School in 2017 and I did the directors course. I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided at the end of the course that at God’s appointed time I would direct,” she stated on Instagram.

“Directing is an artform that takes years to master, so I’m beginning with baby steps and we started shoot today. I have written two short films that I will be directing – Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife), a predominantly Yoruba-language film.”

The shorts are being produced by Sonia Nwosu, and executive produced by Bola Atta, Wale Tinubu, Shola Akinlade, Pearl Thusi and Nonso Okpala. The projects are supported by The British High Commission and the French Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Abudu blasts UK biz over representation

Nigerian television pioneer Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media, has blasted the UK television industry for its “shameful” lack of programming made by and for black audiences.

Mo Abudu

Speaking during an online session at the Berlinale Series Market yesterday, Abudu said she is currently spending more time in the UK urging commissioners at broadcasters to mirror global streamers such as Netflix.

Discussing the TV industry in general, the media mogul said: “A lot of the gatekeepers are still middle-aged white men who really still have a very, very different view of the world and the sort of programmes they think they should be commissioning.

“We need to become gatekeepers. We need to see African women, we need to see black women as gatekeepers. And we are seeing that, with Netflix, we do see that there are black gatekeepers based out in Amsterdam.

“They’ve trailblazed into the continent and realised there is a place for African and black storytelling. That gate is definitely very open to us. But what about the other gates around the world? Why isn’t my story as relevant to the gatekeepers in the UK?

“The black creative economy in the UK is non-existent. It is shameful. Commissioners and broadcasters need to look to themselves and say, we don’t even have a sitcom or a drama series that reflects black life on television in the UK.

“I’m not saying you won’t see people of colour in some of the programmes. But there are no specific shows speaking to us. We are a community of people and we deserve to have shows that speak to us as communities. So we are knocking on those doors and saying you need to do more. That is why I am spending more time in the UK, reaching out to commissioners and broadcasters,” said Abudu, who has launched EbonyLife Productions UK.

Initiatives in the UK intended to improve representation on screen and off include Channel 4’s Black to Front project, which saw the commercial pubcaster’s entire programming schedule fronted by black talent and contributors for one day in September last year.

Asked about Black to Front, Abudu said: “it is something and absolutely better than nothing,” but there needs to be “a shift in the types of stories being told” and more still needs to be done to improve representation throughout the schedule.

Abudu added that while EbonyLife Media is yet to make headway with the BBC, it did strike a development partnership with the drama production department of its commercial arm BBC Studios last year.

The two are working on action-adventure series Reclaim, which explores issues of colonialism, race and cultural ownership. The six-part heist thriller follows the story of a team of art thieves looking to return artworks stolen by the British Empire 125 years ago from the Kingdom of Benin back to its rightful home in Nigeria. Abudu said the series is currently being “shopped around” for a potential buyer.

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BBC Studios, EbonyLife strike partnership

BBC Studios Drama Productions has struck a development partnership with Mo Abudu, founder and CEO of Nigerian entertainment company EbonyLife Media.

Mo Abudu

Under the deal, which was brokered by US talent agency Creative Artists Agency, BBC Studios Drama Productions and EbonyLife Media will develop a new action-adventure series called Reclaim.

The six-part heist thriller is written by Bafta Breakthrough Brit Rowan Athale (The Rise, Strange But True, Little America). It is based on an original idea by Abudu, Heidi Uys and Bode Asiyanbi and tells the story of a team of art thieves looking to return artworks stolen 125 years ago by the British Empire to their rightful home in Nigeria.

“Reclaim is our first big-budget, global series, set partly in the UK. It is a dream come true for two reasons – first, it is a partnership with BBC Studios; second, the project will debut under EbonyLife Productions UK,” said Abudu, who is a former winner of MipTV’s Médailles d’Honneur and is speaking this week at Content London.

“We set up EbonyLife in London because our global strategy includes expansion to the UK and the US. As Nigerians and Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe. I am delighted with this opportunity to extend our reach into the UK with a great story and a formidable partner.”

BBC Studios head of drama Priscilla Paris added: “Reclaim’s breathtaking action-adventure is underpinned by thoughtful and timely themes and declares our shared intention to create stories which have both local and international resonance. Rowan Athale is the perfect writer to bring this story to life, having written both commercial hits and arthouse breakouts.”

The BBC Studios deal comes after EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television unveiled a first-look deal in February this year as well as plans to set up a new African writers’ initiative called Àló in September.

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Mo Abudu joins MIA advisory board

Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media, has been appointed as a member of the advisory board of Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo (MIA), the TV trade event that takes place this week in Rome.

Mo Abudu

MIA bills itself as the first Italian market converging all the segments of the audiovisual industry, including film, drama and documentary.

With over 2,000 professionals from 58 countries participating in each edition, according to the organisers, MIA is a platform for top players in the international film and TV industries.

“I am extremely excited to announce that I have been invited to join the advisory board of MIA 2021. I am equally excited to be speaking at MIA 2021 – ‘Standing out in the streaming game,’” Abudu said on Instagram, referring to the title of the panel session she will be participating in at MIA.

MIA is supported by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, The Italian Trade & Investment Agency, The Ministry of Economic Development and the Media Programme of the European Union.

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Sony, EbonyLife set up writers’ initiative

Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media and Sony Pictures Television (SPT) have collaborated to set up a new African writers’ initiative called Àló, meaning ‘once upon a time’ in the Yoruba language.

Mo Abudu

The platform is aimed at finding and curating the best authentic African story ideas that would inspire viewers around the globe.

It is open to writers of proven African heritage born in any of Africa’s 54 countries or have proven citizenship as a native of the country, or as first-generation children, including professionals, freelancers and up-and-coming writers.

Submissions must pay homage to Africa’s unique cultures, diversity, heritage and people and will be reviewed and shortlisted by the Àló team, comprising creative executives from both EbonyLife and SPT.

Successful candidates will have the opportunity to enter into a series pilot development agreement with SPT and EbonyLife to create and write a pilot script. Once completed, the projects will be pitched to major international broadcasters for their consideration.

Nina Lederman

The first round of the initiative will accept submissions between September 24 and November 5 as well as a further six-week period to be confirmed later in the year.

Submissions are also open internationally from the US, Canada, UK, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. More regions will be included as the project expands for future submission periods.

For details on how to apply, click here.

The move comes after SPT and EbonyLife agreed a two-year deal earlier this year, giving SPT an exclusive first-look at all new EbonyLife scripted television projects.

Mo Abudu, CEO at EbonyLife Media, said: “I am particularly thrilled about this writers’ initiative because it is in line with our continent-wide vision to harness and grow our creative economy. It is focused on global storytelling that is authentically African and that gives African writers access to the biggest international broadcasters in the world.”

Nina Lederman, exec VP of global scripted development for SPT, added: “The Àló initiative is born out of SPT and EbonyLife’s shared passion for great storytelling. We know from our many, many conversations developing this initiative with Mo and her team at EbonyLife that there are countless stories from across the African continent yet to be told. We hope that this provides a unique platform to writers of African heritage with a story they want to bring to the world.”

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EbonyLife agrees first-look deal with Sony

Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media has sealed an exclusive first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT)’s international production division.

Mo Abudu

Under the two-year deal, SPT gets an exclusive first look on all new EbonyLife Media scripted television projects.

Founded by Nigerian producer and media mogul Mo Abudu, EbonyLife Media has produced shows including Chief Daddy, The Wedding Party and Fifty.

Last year, the company signed a slate deal with Netflix and produced its first original for the global streamer, human-trafficking drama Òlòturé.

The new deal is the second between EbonyLife and SPT, following the announcement of a three-project co-development and production pact in 2018. The first project announced as part of that agreement is a series inspired by the story of the Dahomey Amazons.

Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media, said: “Taking African storytelling to global audiences is something we are very passionate about, and this new opportunity with Sony gives us a chance to reach massive audiences worldwide with our scripted TV series.”

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Castle & Castle S2 in the works

Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Media is developing a second season of its legal drama Castle & Castle.

The first run, which was picked up by global streamer Netflix in February, was directed by Tope Oshin, Niyi Akinmolayan and Kenneth Gyang and followed a happy couple, Remi (Dakore Egbuson-Akande) and Tega (Richard Mofe-Damijo), who ran a successful legal firm in Lagos.

Abudu, EbonyLife Media’s CEO, took to Instagram to make the announcement saying: “Super-excited about this month of July. Such great news to share with you all. Guess what guys – Castle & Castle, Nigeria’s first legal procedural series did so well it’s getting a season two and it’s exclusive to Netflix. We are in development. It will be coming to you in 2021.”

The series cast includes Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Etim Effiong, Dorcas Shola Fapson and media personality Denola Grey.

The show is one of EbonyLife’s Afropolitan projects that reflect African issues and contemporary African life.

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EbonyLife preps ‘Afro-futuristic’ crime drama

Mo Abudu’s entertainment channel Ebonylife TV is developing ‘Afro-futuristic’ crime drama Nigeria 2099 for AMC Networks Entertainment Group.

The show will be executive produced by EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu and EbonyLife TV’s head of programming Heidi Uys, while Ahmadu Garbu (Happy, Sinner) will write the series.

Set in a futuristic Nigeria, the drama is about a police officer in Lagos who is assigned to protect an American businessman and unravels a global conspiracy.

Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group, said: “We’re looking for highly original visions and voices as we think about how AMC Networks evolves. The projects in development, both on the entertainment group side and at AMC Studios, all embrace people with singular and surprising points of view.”

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Nigerian firms pack for Mipcom

A number of Nigerian companies will attend the Mipcom international TV programme market in Cannes, France next month.

Mipcom is the world’s biggest entertainment content market

The annual event takes place between October 15 and 18 and this year’s theme is The Big Shift: Transitioning to a Reshaped Media Landscape.

The title reflects the growing demand for premium content in all facets of the media industry.

Nigerian companies at the event will include Ascend Studios, Ayanwale Kehinde Enterprises, Chinto Technologies, EbonyLife Media, Gospell Digital Technology and Salt & Truth. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was meant to exhibit at the event but for reasons unknown will not be present, a spokeswoman told Content Nigeria.

Attending the world’s biggest entertainment content market will be industry leaders, producers, commissioners, distributors, media personnel, independent production companies, digital studios and brands and almost 2,000 exhibiting companies from around the world.

John Adewusi, MD of Lagos prodco Salt & Truth, said: “Mipcom is the ultimate content market for a producer, with many opportunities to collaborate and keep up with all that’s happening in the global content and production space. I will be there to gain knowledge, opportunity and, most of all, build relationships.”

John Adewusi

Companies attending as commissioners will have access to top-level conferences, networking and keynotes events as well as the Mipcom world premiere screenings that will feature fresh content reaching the market.

Mipcom 2018 allows exhibitors to showcase their latest content. Adewusi said: “We will be there with our slate of content: a new format, a seven-part docuseries, a comedy series and a drama. These projects are in various stages, some in development, some completed and in need of distribution. We are there to present our stories to the world.”

Several conferences will be held where relevant issues like content creation, financing evolution, consumer trends, positivity of diversity and inclusion in the world TV landscape, content delivery and shaping the future of TV and entertainment will be discussed.

“Mipcom bridges the gap between the various levels of production. For Nigeria, it gives us local producers and creators a seat at the grand table, an opportunity to tell our stories and, with the right backing, assist us in amplifying these stories to the world,” said Adewusi.

Reporters for Content Nigeria and parent company C21 Media will be at the event, as well as the preceding MipJunior event on October 13 and 14.

Contact the press team with your news by clicking here.

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EbonyLife talks up ‘Afro-genres’ at Mipcom

MIPCOM: African channel EbonyLife Media is at the Mipcom market here in Cannes looking to work with international partners on a range of drama projects it is billing as ‘Afro-genres’.

Mo Abudu

EbonyLife has spent the past few years teaming up with international partners to develop and evolve its original African content. In 2014, the company partnered with Disney to produce Desperate Housewives Africa, which was based on the US drama and became a major hit across Africa.

Since then, EbonyLife has produced more than 5,000 hours of entertainment and reality programmes through EbonyLife Studios. Furthermore, its Nigerian movie franchise The Wedding Party has emerged as a major favourite.

In March 2018, the company struck a three-project deal with Sony Pictures Television to produce dramas including The Dahomey Warriors. EbonyLife also acquired a licence to produce gameshow The Dating Game Nigeria.

The company is now at Mipcom looking to continue this strategy of teaming with international partners. In addition, EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu will give a keynote address on the significance of EbonyLife’s Afro genres at Content London, which takes place in the UK capital from November 27 to 30 this year.

EbonyLife is in discussions with international partners over various coproduction projects, and is offering producers and distributors distinct content formats, scripts and concepts in the form of series, movies and shows that are ready to be developed.

To meet the demands of audiences, the EbonyLife research team has been developing content in four major areas under the overall ‘Afro-genre’ label.

Afro-history deals with stories related to myths and legends from the African continent such as The Dahomey Warriors, a series about a young girl who faces adversity when she joins the renowned female warriors who guard the king in the 18th century West African kingdom of Dahomey.

Afro-futurism explores a futuristic Africa using science-fiction and adventures to tell stories. One of such project is Nigeria 2099.

Afropolitan refers to series that reflect African issues, contemporary African life and African drama generally. Legal drama Castle & Castle is one example.

Afro-impact encompasses drama related to current events that reflect societal issues such as the war against modern slavery and terrorism. Human-trafficking film Oloture comes under this label.

EbonyLife Media said it was able to convert African stories into a language understood globally. Its partnership with international studios is aimed at brining these concepts to life.

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EbonyLife TV marks five years with rebrand

Premium lifestyle and entertainment channel EbonyLife TV has rebranded after marking its fifth anniversary this month.

Parent company EbonyLife Media unveiled a new logo and disclosed plans to launch the channel on pay TV platform StarTimes, ending the exclusivity of its carriage deal with DSTV, on August 1.

Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, said: “This is an exciting time for us. StarTimes is a force to be reckoned with in Africa. It is a privilege for EbonyLife to have an additional home with the network.

“Together with the global reach of [VoD service] EbonyLife ON, we will have the potential for millions more people to enjoy our shows.”

Mo Abudu

“As one of Nigeria’s leading television networks, it made sense to include it in the StarTimes family,” said Justin Zhang, MD of StarTimes.

However, reports suggest EbonyLife may have decided to expand its reach in Africa at this time because DSTV is set to stop airing the channel to subscribers in southern Africa this month. EbonyLife is yet to comment on the reports.

Meanwhile, it continues to expand not just via TV but also by its VoD service, EbonyLife ON, which was previously available only to international audiences.

The video streaming service is now accessible to Nigerians for a monthly subscription of N500. The EbonyLife ON app can be downloaded on Android and IOS app stores.

EbonyLife TV launched on July 1, 2013 and is now broadcast across Africa and the Caribbean on StarTimes (channel 107, 191), DSTV (channel 165) and Flow.

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Mo Abudu judges Rolex Awards

Mo Abudu (in yellow) with the other jury members

EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu has been revealed as a juror for this year’s Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

Established in 1976 by the luxury watch company, the Rolex Awards recognise “exceptional individuals who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges; men and women who have a spirit of enterprise, initiating extraordinary projects that make the world a better place.”

Influential Nigerian media mogul Abudu, who launched EbonyLife in 2006, was one of 10 jurors chosen for their expertise and stature in a wide variety of fields. The jurors have selected 10 finalists for the awards, with the winners set to be revealed next month.

Announcing her involvement via Instagram, Abudu said: “Earlier this year in February, I was invited to join the Jury of the Rolex Awards. I had the privilege of meeting and spending a few days in London with executives from Rolex, my co jury members and we had the opportunity to evaluate the most incredible and diverse set of projects that were presented to us.

“As a 2019 Rolex Awards jury member we had a challenging time selecting the 10 finalists. We are off to Washington DC in June to judge the finals.”

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