“It was important to me to change the narrative. It’s important because it has an impact on everything you do. It doesn’t matter who you are or what business you are running. You would always be seen as some African from the bush trying to run a bank. But we do these things successfully and we shouldn’t be seen as second rate. That is the message that we are putting out there.” ~ Mo Abudu; a woman of her words, resilient and limitless as far as her goals are concerned.
Mosunmola Abudu, popularly known as Mo Abudu, is a media tycoon, philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Her accomplishments as a media mogul over the years has not only made her a force to reckon with but she’s also provided jobs and platforms to many young Nigerians and Africans generally.
Thus, it totally made sense when Forbes described the media giant as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”.
As the founder and CEO of Ebony Life; Africa’s first global black entertainment network , Abudu could pass for a perfectionist as her great work ethics and principles are evident in the impeccable results of her outputs over the time.
“There aren’t enough people in the media creation space. There aren’t enough people making premium quality programming. That’s how we change the narrative. Because there is a lot of bad African programming out there, and it is not helping matters.”
Abudu, an entrepreneur with a predilection for television, launched EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle network, in 2013. Her primary goal for the channel was to create a more positive narrative around Africa. What followed was a string of aspirational series like The Governor, about Nigeria’s first female state governor; Desperate Housewives Africa, based on Disney’s original series; and Sons of the Caliphate, a drama about the rivalry between rich and powerful families in northern Nigeria’ and Castle & Castle, Africa’s first premium legal series amongst others.
In her quest to change global perceptions about Africa, Abudu took the plunge into filmmaking with the creation of EbonyLife Films in 2014.
For Mo, this has always been a dream. She’s always wanted to put Nigeria on the world map in a positive way. Thus she said:
“I’ve been a brand ambassador for Nigeria since I was age 11. Growing up in the U.K., I’ve had to defend Nigeria. and when I was 40, I finally woke up and decided to do something, and that’s how the talk show came about.”
The mother of two also believes that no one can tell the Nigerian/African story better than Nigerians/African. Again, she’s about changing the norm of having our stories being told in Hollywood superficially; “Whenever Hollywood makes films about us, it’s 12 Years a Slave or The Butler or The Help. That is not the sum total of who we are as a people.” Abudu emphasized.
She executive produced Fifty, directed by Biyi Bandele, produced by Tope Oshin Ogun, and starring Nse Ikpe-Etim, Ireti Doyle, Omoni Oboli, and Dakore Akande. Fifty was Nigeria’s highest-grossing drama and number 1 film in 2015. Fifty was also the only Nigerian film selected to screen at the 59th BFI London Film Festival. Fifty was acquired by Netflix in 2015.
In 2016, Abudu co-executive produced The Wedding Party, directed by Kemi Adetiba and starring Adesua Etomi, Banky Wellington, Richard Mofe Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Iretiola Doyle, Alibaba Akporobome, Zainab Balogun, Beverly Naya, Somkele Iyamah, Enyinna Nwigwe, Daniella Down, and Stephen Damien. The Wedding Party premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 and became the highest-grossing title of all time at the Nigerian box office. In 2017, The Wedding Party was acquired by Netflix.
In 2017, Abudu co-executive produced The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai, directed by Niyi Akinmolayan and featuring the original movie’s main cast. The sequel surpassed the original movie in
terms of domestic and international revenues, making The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai the highest-grossing Nollywood film of all time.
In 2017, Abudu executive produced The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, directed by Ishaya Bako and featuring an ensemble cast that included Zainab Balogun, Kenneth Okolie, Deyemi Okanlawon, Joke Silva, Olu Jacobs, Jide Kosoko, Rachel Oniga, Kemi Lala Akindoju, and Ini Dima-Okojie. The Royal Hibiscus Hotel made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. It was the only Nigerian selection and one of only three African features in the Contemporary World Cinema category, which spotlights 48 of the best new films worldwide. The Royal Hibiscus Hotel was recognized as a “Hidden Gem” by the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2018, Amazon Prime licensed The Royal Hibiscus Hotel for audiences outside Africa.
In 2018, Abudu executive produced Chief Daddy, directed by Niyi Akinmolayan featuring a star studded cast including Richard Mofe Damijo, Ajoke Silva, Dakore Akande, Funke Akindele, Kate Henshaw, Falz, Rachel Oniga, Nkem Owoh, Patience Ozokwor amongst others. Chief Daddy was the ‘Official Number 1 Nollywood film of 2018’ and the third-highest grossing Nigerian film. In 2019, Netflix acquired ‘Chief Daddy’ after weeks in cinemas.
Abudu executive produced the new film Òlòtūré, a feature film about a young, naïve, female journalist goesundercovertoexposetheshadybusinessofhuman traffickinginNigeriaandencountersabrutal underworld. The film was directed by Kenneth Gyang and starring Sharon Ooja, Omoni Oboli, Blossom
Chukwujekwu, Omowunmi Dada, Kemi “Lala” Akindoju, Wofai Fada, Bukola Oladipupo, Pearl Okorie, Ikechukwu Onanaku, David Jones David, Sambasa Nzeribe, and Omawumi Megbele.
In 2018, Sony Pictures Television (SPT) announced that they had concluded a three-year deal with EbonyLife TV that would include co-production of The Dahomey Warriors, a series about the legendary Amazons who took on French colonialists in a 19th-century West African kingdom.
As CEO of EbonyLife Media, Abudu has made her mark through various endeavours in the corporate world, and CNN said she was “Africa’s Queen of Media who conquered the continent.”
According to Abudu, “We discussed relationships, abuse, divorce and more. In our society, women have no outlet for these things. The only outlet is the church. And the church can’t handle everything. I saw a gap.”
The gab that she’s not only feeling perfectly and graciously, but she’s also inspiring others to do same.
Abudu oversees all five divisions of EbonyLife Media, which includes EbonyLife TV, EbonyLife Films, EbonyLife ON, EbonyLife Studios, and EbonyLife Productions Limited (UK).
Abudu is highly sought after for her knowledge of the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the Wharton School of Business, Cambridge University Judge School of Business, and Harvard University, and she has received many international recognitions. She was listed in Hollywood Reporter’s 25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television in 2013 and 2017. Abudu received an Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honouris Causa) from Babcock University, Nigeria’s premier private university. In 2018, the University of Westminster awarded Mo an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts, in recognition of her outstanding services to broadcasting and enterprise in Nigeria. In the same year, Abudu was appointed a Director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the organization responsible for staging the world famous International Emmy Awards. She was named on The Powerlist 2018, an annual list of the UK’s top 100 most influential people of African and Caribbean heritage. Abudu was nominated to serve as a member of the Advisory Group on
Technology and Creatively for Nigeria in 2018 as well. Abudu was one of 4 honourees to receive the 2019 Médailles d’Honneur in Cannes at MIPTV. Abudu is currently represented by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
Abudu began her career in the UK as a recruitment consultant in 1987 and went on to work for the Starform Group and ExxonMobil (Nigeria) as head of Human Resources and Training. She left in 2000 to establish Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited, a specialist human resources development company. While running VLA, Abudu developed an executive training center at the Protea Hotel in Oakwood Park, Lagos.
Abudu attended Ridgeway School, Mid Kent College, and West Kent College. She earned her MA in Human Resources Development from the University of Westminster in London. Abudu has two children: a daughter Temidayo, who is a film and TV producer, and a son Adekoyejo, who is a budding art consultant.
Mo Abudu new movie flick: Oloture!
I was invited to the private screening of her new movie flick which is yet to be released in the cinemas and l watched Mo Abudu shed tears profusely in public as she passionately shares her pain and disgust for sex slavery and human trafficking.
I call her ‘the Iyalode of Nollywood’, I have always thought Abudu was a woman of steel; iron woman that is unbreakable but this movie Oloture shook her and everyone in the hall including me.
Oloture is a bigger box office movie with a bigger picture with an intense message. It is a must watch .
All about Oloture:
Owing from the fact that human trafficking and modern slavery are a global problem, EbonyLife Films Executive Producer, Mo Abudu has decided to be a part of the movement kicking against the inhuman reality through art and content.
Thus, the birth of a movie, Òlòtūré.
Set in Nigeria, Òlòtūré is the story of a young, naïve Nigerian journalist who goes undercover to expose the shady underworld of human trafficking. Unused to this brutal environment, crawling with ruthless traders and pimps, Òlòtūré finds warmth and friendship with Blessing, Linda and Beauty, the prostitutes she lives with. However, she gets drawn into their lifestyle and finds it difficult to cope. In her quest to uncover the truth, she pays the ultimate price – one that takes her to the verge of no return.
Directed by Kenneth Gyang , Òlòtūré stars Sharon Ooja; Omoni Oboli; Blossom Chukwujekwu; Omowunmi Dada; Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju; Wofai Fada; Bukola Oladipupo; Pearl Okorie; Ikechukwu Onanaku; David Jones David; Sambasa Nzeribe and Omawumi Megbele.