Tag Archives: Mo Abudu

EbonyLife studied at Harvard again

Mo Abudu (centre) with Harvard professors Andy Wu and Feng Zhu

Nigeria’s EbonyLife has again been selected as a case study to be covered at Harvard Business School as the prestigious Boston college celebrates 100 years of teaching using the case study method.

The news comes after a case study about the Lagos-based media company, led by CEO Mo Abudu, was taught last year at the Harvard Business School to over 1,000 MBA students, as part of the required curriculum classes for all first-year students.

Abudu said on Instagram: “I am pleased to inform you all that the EbonyLife Harvard Business School case study is now one of the selected case studies in celebration of the Harvard Business School’s 100 years of teaching the case study method.

“I look forward to joining Professors Andy Wu and Feng Zhu as we reflect on the never-ending EbonyLife journey.”

EbonyLife TV, a subsidiary of EbonyLife Media, started as a pan-African entertainment channel that was launched on the DStv platform in 2013 to sub-Saharan Africa. EbonyLife Media no longer runs a linear TV network but instead produces African content for third-party platforms around the globe, most recently with thriller miniseries Blood Sisters for Netflix.

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Abudu to receive Women in Series award

Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigeria’s EbonyLife Group, will be honoured with the Women in Series award at the Series Mania drama festival, which is being held in Lille, France, from March 18 to 25.

Mo Abudu

In collaboration with the European Women’s Audiovisual Network and advocacy group Pour Les Femmes Dans Les Médias, the prize is given to a remarkable woman from the audiovisual industry to honour her vision and leadership. The awards ceremony will take place on March 22.

Last year’s winner was Christina Sulebakk, general manager of HBO Max EMEA.

Announcing the award on Instagram, Abudu said: “I am deeply pleased to be fulfilling a dream where EbonyLife Studios is working with a variety of international partners in amplifying the awareness of the black experience in storytelling and bringing fresh new African stories to a world audience.

“I would really like to encourage our industry to make positive change with inclusive representation of women, African and black creative talent.”

Abudu started Ebonylife TV in 2006 and the network now airs in more than 49 countries across Africa, as well as in the UK and the Caribbean. She established EbonyLife Films in 2014 and her first film as an executive producer was Fifty. Teaming up with The Elfike Collective in 2016, she produced The Wedding Party and other films. She has also exec produced or coproduced movies including The Wedding Party 2, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Chief Daddy, Your Excellency and Òlòtūré.

Abudu has also formed partnerships with Sony Pictures Television to coproduce The Dahomey Warriors, a series about the Amazons who took on French colonialists in a 19th century West African kingdom; with AMC Networks to produce Nigeria 2099, a crime drama created by EbonyLife; with Netflix to create two original series as well as multiple Netflix-branded films; and with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios to produce a slate of film and TV projects connected to the African continent.

Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania, said: “I am honoured to be making this wonderful announcement alongside the European Women’s Audiovisual Network and Pour Les Femmes Dans Les Médias. Mo Abudu is truly a remarkable leader and visionary and was the perfect choice for Series Mania and to complement the 2022 International Women’s Day campaign theme of #BreakTheBias.”

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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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EbonyLife partners Starz for Queen Nzinga

Mo Abudu at Content London earlier this month

British-Nigerian entrepreneur Mo Abudu’s Lagos-based EbonyLife Studios has struck a partnership deal with Lionsgate-owned US network Starz for an African period drama.

Queen Nzinga will be developed under the partnership. Set in 17th century Angola, it tells the story of an innocent princess who transforms into a fearless warrior queen and wages war against the kingdom’s enemies in the form of Portuguese slavers.

The drama will be produced by Lionsgate Television and executive produced by Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson through his G-Unit Film & Television alongside Abudu, who will executive produce through EbonyLife Media. It will also be overseen by executive VP of original programming Karen Bailey on behalf of Starz. The search for a showrunner is currently underway.

The series will star Nigerian-American actor Yetide Badaki (American Gods) as Queen Nzinga. Steven S DeKnight (Spartacus) is the creator and head writer.

Abudu said: “Dear Karen Bailey, thank you so much for uniting us all on this project. The continent of Africa has a treasure trove of stories that are yet to be told. Queen Nzinga is a story that I have wanted to tell for a long time.

“This project is also special for us as it comes in the wake of us opening EbonyLife USA LLC in Los Angeles. I said it before and I am saying it again, as Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens, and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe.”

Jackson added: “As G-Unit Film & Television launches more premium international productions, I couldn’t have found better partners than Mo, Yetide and Steven to help tell the incredible story of Queen Nzinga.”

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Netflix lines up Nollywood movie duo

A Naija Christmas

Global streaming service Netflix has lined up two more Nollywood films this festive season.

A Naija Christmas, which will debut on December 16, is the story of three brothers who scramble to find wives they can bring home by Christmas. Meanwhile, their mom sets out to host the most beautiful Christmas celebration ever. The movie stars Rachel Oniga, Kunle Remi and Segilola Ogidan.

Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke, which is available from January 1, is the sequel to 2018 Nollywood comedy Chief Daddy, made by Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films.

Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke

Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, it stars Funke Akindele-Bello, Shaffy Bello, Kate Henshaw, Joke Silva, Rachael Oniga, Ini Edo, Patience Ozokwo, Nkem Owoh, Beverly Osu and Beverly Naya.

Abudu took to Instagram to announce the news, saying: “Come January 1, 2022, the Beecrofts are returning with more family drama, more secrets, more laughs and even more fun and entertainment.”

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Abudu calls for more African talent in UK

Mo Abudu at Content London

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.”

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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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EbonyLife studied at Harvard biz school

Mo Abudu with Harvard professors Andy Wu (left) and Feng Zhu

The growth of Nigerian broadcaster EbonyLife will be taught as a case study to over 1,000 MBA students at Harvard Business School (HBS) as part of curriculum classes that all first-year students must take.

According to EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu, this is the first time that a case study about an African female-led media company will be taught to MBA students at Harvard.

“I did not see this coming, but I’m giving God all the glory. Only he could have made this possible,” Abudu said. “This is the Harvard Business School – EbonyLife case study. It’s been about a year in the making, in partnership with Harvard Business School professors and their research department.

“EbonyLife turns 10 next year, so the case study reflects on how we started and where we are today. It also reflects on many of the challenges we have had along the way and the consequences of some of the decisions we took.

“It is such an honour for me to be on the Harvard Business School campus in Boston while this case study is being taught for the first time today. I get the opportunity to share the EbonyLife story with the students and faculty in person, and to answer their questions about our journey. My sincere thanks to the HBS staff and the EbonyLife team for making this possible.”

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EbonyLife starts production on Netflix film

Death & The King’s Horseman

Nigeria’s EbonyLife has begun production on Death & The King’s Horseman, a Netflix film that comes under EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu’s deal to develop original titles for the US-based streamer.

The feature is an adaptation of a play by Professor Wole Soyinka, which is based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during the colonial era when the horseman of a Yoruba king was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities.

According to Abudu, one of the major challenges of the production has been finding locations that fit the 1940s setting. So far, scenes have been shot at the Muson Centre in Lagos and at the Lagos Colonial Secretariat.

“We are so excited to be making Death & The King’s Horseman,” Abudu said. “It’s been a lot of work bringing this particular project to life because it is a period piece set in Nigeria in the 1940s. I will be forever grateful to Professor Wole Soyinka for giving me the rights to this most important and treasured piece of literature. I cannot wait for the world to see this feature film – another Netflix exclusive.”

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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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Ted Abudu unveils Money.Men.Marriage

Money.Men.Marriage

Ted Abudu, Nigerian producer and daughter of EbonyLifeTV chief exec Mo Abudu, is set to debut her new series, Money.Men.Marriage (aka MMM) on YouTube.

The series is produced by Ted Abudu’s new Lagos-based production company Laced Up Productions and will be released on YouTube on 29 October.

The show follows the lives of five young women through the eyes of a newcomer to the chaos and unpredictability of Lagos as they figure out love, life, friendships and finances. It stars Toni Tones, Elozonam, Christopher Iheuwa and Chinasa Anukam.

Abudu took to Instagram to announce the news, saying: “So so so so sooooo excited to announce the release of MMM the series under my new production company Laced Up Productions!!! It’s been a long time coming but I’ve learnt better late than never. God willing the first of many more series to come!”

MMM is produced by Abudu and Isioma Osaje and directed by Ema Edosio, Ifeoma Chukwuogo and Ted Abudu.

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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 wraps on Netflix’s Blood Sisters

Blood Sisters in production

Nigerian production company EbonyLife Studios has concluded production on thriller movie Blood Sisters, which will debut soon on global streaming platform Netflix.

EbonyLife chief executive Mo Abudu made the announcement on Instagram, saying: “Excited to share the official press release issued by Netflix on Blood Sisters. As the first and only African studio to sign a multiple-title deal with Netflix, our relationship with Netflix is based on a mutual vision: to bring authentic African stories, with superb production values, to both African and global audiences.

“Netflix’s commitment to growing the African film industry is unparalleled and we feel honoured to be part of this journey. We look forward to many more successful productions together. It’s been a busy year for us: Castle & Castle 2, Chief Daddy 2 and now Blood Sisters, yippee!!! And still more to come, trust me, we have a never-ending slate of films and series to roll out to keep you all glued.”

Blood Sisters follows the story of two friends, played by Ini Dima-Okojie and Nancy Isime, who try to cover up the death of one’s fiancé who was killed in self-defence by the other, leading to a catastrophic series of events.

As well as Dima-Okojie and Isime, the cast includes Ramsey Nouah, Uche Jombo, Kate Henshaw, Segun Arinze, Genoveva Umeh, Deyemi Okanlawon, Wale Ojo, Gabriel Afolayan, Toke Makinwa and Kehinde Bankole.

The release date of the movie is yet to be announced.

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Castle & Castle heads to Netflix for S2

The second season of EbonyLife Studios’ legal drama Castle & Castle will debut exclusively on global streaming platform Netflix on September 15.

The first season of the show, a procedural drama set in a successful Lagos law firm run by a married couple, debuted in March 2019 on EbonyLife TV.

Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu, EbonyLife’s CEO, shared the news on Instagram, saying: “Three years after the first season aired, the highly anticipated second season of EbonyLife Studios’ Castle & Castle is coming exclusively to Netflix on 15th September 2021. We are tremendously excited about bringing audiences the sequel to Africa’s first legal drama series, Castle & Castle, along with our partners, Netflix.

“Fans were riveted by Season 1, and we responded to their desire to see more.

Castle & Castle Season 2 is a very sexy series and promises to deliver on high drama and some very unexpected twists and turns. No doubt you all want to know what season 2 is all about.”

Shot in Lagos, Nigeria, the new season is directed by Kayode Kasum and Walter Taylaur and stars both new and returning cast members, including Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Etim Effiong, Dorcas Shola Fapson, Kenneth Okolie, Bimbo Ademoye, Bisola Aiyeola, Mimi Chaka and media personality Denola Grey.

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EbonyLife, Will Packer tell Hushpuppi story

Nigeria’s EbonyLife Studios and US-based Will Packer Productions have won the rights to a Bloomberg article about a Nigerian internet scammer and are developing it into a movie with Universal Pictures.

Mo Abudu

Evan Ratliff’s article The Fall of the Billionaire Gucci Master is an exposé of Nigerian Instagram influencer Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka Ray Hushpuppi. He is alleged to have perfected a simple internet scam that allowed him to launder millions of dollars, which eventually led to a criminal case being filed against him in a California federal court.

EbonyLife Studios CEO Mo Abudu announced the news on Instagram, revealing that the project has been set up at Hollywood-based Universal Pictures.

“When the Hushpuppi story made headlines last year, I pitched the story idea to Will Packer and [production partner] James Lopez. They bought the idea and together we won the rights to the Bloomberg article,” she said.

“The rights were won after a highly contested derby by several producers. It’s a dream come true to be working with Will Packer Productions and Universal Pictures on this project.”

The film has been described as a hybrid of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 pseudo-biographical crime film Catch Me If You Can and Bryan Singer’s 1995 neo-noir mystery thriller film The Usual Suspects.

Outlining why she believe stories like this need to be told, Abudu said: “Firstly, there are many lessons to be learnt from good and bad stories. Secondly, if we do not tell this story, someone else will, and to ensure that this story is told with authenticity, a Nigerian storyteller with our pedigree needs to be involved.

“Too often, these types of characters are one-dimensional and feed into the worst stereotypes.

 Hushpuppi’s story is based on a real person whose story is already partly known to the world, but the film gives us a real chance to tell a cautionary tale about a character formed by his environment and life choices.”

“The films of Martin Scorsese are a great example of a filmmaker telling richly layered stories of criminal characters from his heritage that we’ve all grown to love, without ever creating the impression that all Italian Americans are members of the mafia. Needless to say, not all Nigerians are 419 scam artists.”

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Nigerian trio join Oscars academy

L-R: Mo Abudu, Ramsey Nouah and Andrew Dosunmu

The Beverly Hills-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the organisation behind the Oscars, has invited three Nigerian filmmakers to become members.

Listed among 395 members for this year’s class, the Nigerian trio are EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu, actor/director Ramsey Nouah (The Figurine, Rattle Snake: The Ahanna Story) and director Andrew Dosunmu (Restless City, Mother of George) .

Abudu was named in the producer category for her films Oloture (2020) and The Royal Hibiscus Hotel (2017); Nouah was named in the actor category for his roles in 2016 movie 76 and 2009’s The Figurine; and Dosunmu was named in the director category for his films Mother of George (2013) and Restless City (2011).

Writing on Instagram, Abudu said: “It’s such an honour to be included in this category by the Academy. I am proud to be one of 29 producers from around the world who has received this invitation, and the only Nigerian and African woman in the producer category.

“Ladies, we can do anything! I give God all glory and all honour. My thanks and love to the EbonyLife team who work so hard to make these things possible. This membership is ours, guys! We will continue to do what we do best – telling African stories to audiences around the world.”

In 2019, Nigerian filmmakers Tunde Kelani and Chinonye Chukwu and actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje were invited to join the Academy.

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First EbonyLife Academy students graduate

Mo Abudu (back row, fifth from right) with the graduates

The EbonyLife Creative Academy, which was recently launched in partnership with the Lagos State Government and Lagos State Creative Industries Initiative through Nigeria’s Ministry of Tourism, Art & Culture, has graduated its first intake of students.

Over 120 students completed eight courses over 12 weeks in courses such as the Art of Screenwriting, Producing for Success, The Director’s Toolkit, Acting for Screen, Cinematography & Lighting, Art Direction for Film & TV, Audio Essentials for Film & TV, and Visual Post Production.

The courses have been designed by local and foreign industry experts to help working film professionals improve their skills and to equip beginners with the skills they need to launch their careers.

EbonyLife CEO Mo Abudu said on Instagram: “It is with loads of excitement that we announce the graduation of the first intake of students at the EbonyLife Creative Academy on the completion of their 12-week courses. All of their courses were free of charge, courtesy of funding by Lagos State Government… I am excited about what the future holds for our bright creatives.”

Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, Nigeria’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture, added: “I am so proud of this first batch of young filmmakers, who have spent the last three months honing their skills. They are well on their way to becoming the highly skilled technical and creative filmmakers that we need to help us to drive the creative economy forward.”

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Abudu opens EbonyLife Creative Academy

governor of Lagos state Jide Sanwo-Olu and Mo Abudu at the official opening

EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu has launched The EbonyLife Creative Academy in partnership with the Lagos State Government and Lagos State Creative Industries Initiative (LACI) through Nigeria’s Ministry of Tourism, Art & Culture.

The academy has been established to equip aspiring industry professionals with the practical and technical skills necessary to build a successful career in both the Nigerian and international entertainment markets.

The EbonyLife Creative Academy offers free hands-on practical training on courses including screenwriting, production, directing, audiovisual, acting, cinematography, lighting, art direction and visual post-production. Students will be able to gain insights and knowledge from industry professionals and create their original work at the end of the course.

Abudu, who announced the move on Instagram, said: “Truly this is a proud moment for everyone involved in creating the academy. As an HR practitioner, I have been and will always be a firm believer in training and development.

“So wanting to create a creative academy has been a wish and a personal desire for as long as I have been in this industry. To be counted amongst the best content producers in the world, training and development is key. To truly make Lagos a destination for media and entertainment, a trained workforce in our industry is critical.”

The governor of Lagos state, Jide Sanwo-Olu, has offered support to the initiative, allowing the academy to offer free courses to budding filmmakers living in Lagos state.

“I need to emphasise the word ‘free,’” Abudu continued. “If we were to charge for these courses in this most conducive environment that we have created, with our experienced international faculty, the curriculum designed, the equipment available to our students, it would run into millions of Naira per student.

“Now we have an opportunity to make a real impact within the film and TV space that will improve production quality across the industry, provide jobs and business opportunities, and help to grow the creative economy in Lagos. Our utmost thanks to the Lagos State Government, Lagos State Creative Industries Initiative and the Lagos Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture.”

The classes will take place at a new campus in Victoria Island in Lagos. To apply, click here.

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Westbrook partners EbonyLife on film, TV

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios has partnered with Nigerian production company EbonyLife Studios to work on TV and film projects connected to the African continent.

Mo Abudu

The projects include Dada Safaris, an ‘Afropolitan’ comedy-drama series that follows four best friends who find themselves at personal and career dead-ends.

This is joined by TV series The Gods, which focuses on a pair of married Cambridge professors who set out to find answers to a surge of natural disasters but find seven long-forgotten African gods instead.

The first movie coproduced by the two studios will be Are We Getting Married?, a comedy set in the US about the daughter of a wealthy Nigerian family who falls in love with a nerdy but charming African American from Atlanta.

Eli Shibley, Westbrook Studios’ senior VP and head of international TV and film, said: “As we set out to focus our initial slate of international content for the studio business across a diversified set of key territories and regions, the creative energy and world-class artistry coming out of Africa is absolutely undeniable.”

Regarding the link-up with EbonyLife founder and chief exec Mo Abudu, he added: “We are thrilled to be working with a best-in-class producer like Mo and her EbonyLife team to tell stories that uniquely celebrate African characters and perspectives and resonate with fans of great film and television around the world.”

Abudu said: “We all dream of lofty goals becoming a reality, then one day those dreams come true. I’m proud to announce that our vision of EbonyLife Studios being in partnership with Will and Jada’s Westbrook Studios is now real.

“Westbrooks’ goal is to create and curate powerful and inclusive content. This is completely in line with our vision at EbonyLife – to tell global African stories from our perspective. Together, we will be developing a slate of projects that reflect our shared goals. We are beyond excited.”

Abudu said the two companies will focus on “creating the largest continent-wide ecosystem within which we harness and grow our creative economy, creating countless opportunities for all that work within our sector, in front of and behind the screen, never forgetting that our primary aim must be to tell stories that are world-class, exciting, relevant and entertaining.”

Westbrook’s recent expansion includes an international pact with Israel’s Euphoria producer Tedy Productions, while EbonyLife has previously struck deals with studios including Netflix and Sony Pictures TV.

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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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