How She Brought Africa To Hollywood – Deadline

Mo Abudu tried to crack Hollywood for years, however her steely perception that the world wanted to listen to African tales was met with resounding silence. Emails went unanswered, leads from a visit to Los Angeles shortly went chilly. Abudu, a megastar in Nigeria along with her personal chat present and TV community, grew annoyed.

Then, at some point, her Lagos workplace received a name from a Sony Footage Tv gross sales government eager to promote Abudu’s community, EbonyLife TV, a global tv format. It proved to be her Sidney Lumet second. “I mentioned to my head of programming, ‘Inform him we’re not effing all for any bloody format! I’m sick and uninterested in somebody attempting to ram all these tales down our throats. You inform him, we’ve received tales we wish to promote to the world.’ I used to be actually upset,” she remembers.

Her anger proved to be a turning level. That Sony government listened, put EbonyLife in contact with colleagues in LA, and ultimately, the 2 corporations solid a co-development and manufacturing alliance. On the tip of the spear of this settlement was a dedication to develop a significant collection concerning the Dahomey Warriors, an all-female army regiment from the Kingdom of Dahomey in Western Africa.

Though born in London, Abudu’s roots are in Ondo City, Nigeria. Her childhood was cut up between the U.Okay. and Nigeria (even now, she is back-and-forth between the 2 nations, which share a time zone), however her profession took off within the latter and she or he rose to grow to be the top of HR at oil firm ExxonMobil. Abudu grew uninterested in company life and minimize her tooth as an entrepreneur by launching an HR consultancy service earlier than making her transfer into leisure.

Mo Abudu

The dramatic profession change was no small matter in a rustic the place work within the vitality trade is taken into account a job for all times. However then Abudu considers herself a disruptor by nature. “One factor that disruptors have going for them is that they’re very passionate concerning the issues that they do,” she says throughout a Zoom name from Nigeria. “They usually have the power to influence, positively, and persuade individuals round them that they’re making the fitting choice.”

Utilizing her connections from her time in recruitment, she got down to grow to be a chat present host, taking classes in presenting in London and devouring tapes of Oprah Winfrey. By 2008, she had launched Moments with Mo, and 13 years on, she will rely the likes of Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde amongst her friends. Syndicated throughout Africa, the present spawned EbonyLife Studios and Abudu’s mission to carry tales from the continent to the world.

That Sony deal has mushroomed into 20 initiatives being in lively improvement with American studios. EbonyLife has expanded its partnership with Sony, inking a two-year first-look deal to develop scripted TV collection. It has a slate of movie and collection initiatives in with Netflix. The primary of those, human trafficking characteristic Òlòturé, premiered final October, whereas the slate additionally consists of an adaptation of Demise and the King’s Horseman from Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka, who simply so occurred to be Abudu’s very first visitor on Moments with Mo.



EbonyLife is working with AMC Studios on Nigeria 2099, a futuristic story of a Lagos police officer who turns into embroiled in a world conspiracy after being assigned to guard a visiting American businessman. The corporate additionally boasts a co-production take care of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Westbrook Studios for at the very least two collection and one movie. On high of all this, EbonyLife is lighting up the Nigerian field workplace with the highest-grossing motion pictures of all time regionally, together with The Marriage ceremony Social gathering and its sequel—each of that are streaming on Netflix.

“Each single factor we’ve performed, we’ve needed to battle like hell to get them performed,” Abudu says, reflecting on the “three ranges of discrimination” she faces as a Black, African girl. She breaks down EbonyLife’s storytelling imaginative and prescient into 4 genres: Afro-history, which is the place the Sony Dahomey Warriors collection hails from; Afro-futurism, illustrated by Nigeria 2099; Afro impression, which entails telling modern African tales like Òlòturé; and, lastly, Afro politan, which provides voice to the on a regular basis lives of Africans and has delivered hits reminiscent of The Marriage ceremony Social gathering.

Deadline Special Issue: Cannes 2021 + Disruptors

EbonyLife Media is included in Deadline’s 2021 class of Disruptors in our Cannes print journal. Click here to read the digital edition.

Given the worldwide explosion in streaming, and the starvation for genuine native tales, her exhausting work is paying off at precisely the fitting time. “If you’d like me to look at your stuff,” she causes, “then why don’t you respect me somewhat bit extra, and take the time to look at tales about me and about my continent? That’s why I’m grateful to platforms like Netflix as a result of what they’ve performed is diversify the viewing viewers around the globe. And other people will let you know that among the finest tales now on Netflix should not even English-speaking.”

Abudu’s trajectory in tv from latecomer to LA’s go-to girl for African tales has earned her the moniker ‘The African Oprah’. It’s not a comparability that she welcomes fully. “Something that comes out of Africa, there’ll at all times be a Western equal of it for individuals to know,” she says. “I respect every little thing that Oprah has performed, however her journey isn’t my journey.” As Abudu forges her path, Hollywood is lastly listening.

How EbonyLife Founder Mo Abudu Kicked Down Doors To Bring African Stories To Netflix, AMC & Sony


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