Mo Abudu is one of Africa’s most successful women. She is a media giant for Africa in broadcasting, an entrepreneur, and a talk show host.
She is the founder of Ebonylife TV, an African multi-broadcast entertainment network, that portrays Africa at its best.
Over the years she has created a signature brand that resonated with black audiences both in Africa and its diaspora.
Described as Africa’s very own Oprah’, Mo is keen in her resolve to rewrite Africa’s story.
We learn more about her journey and of her trending project (Sisterhood awards) for African women in the industry, that is empowering women to work together to accomplish great things while also celebrating women who have excelled in laudable achievements’
Ebony life is a contributor to the Annual Discop Africa and we caught up with the station in presenting its projects with the rest of Africa in exposing African content to the rest of the world.
What’s your background, and why business?
I was born in the U.K to Nigerian parents. I moved to Lagos in 1993 and spent more than a decade in the corporate world, where I launched a consulting firm, and later a hotel.
However, my love for film and telling African stories brought me to a totally different ball game. I found myself working towards Ebony life TV channel and films.
There are so many African stories that are yet to be told”. “Let’s take these stories to the world now, that’s the journey we’re on,” says Mo.
How difficult is it to own and run and whole TV station?
It’s been just over a decade since I launched the ritzy entertainment and lifestyle network, Ebony life channel in eastern Nigeria.
I have now opened a new studio in Lagos, the country’s entertainment and media capital. For me, it has been all about keeping with a philosophy passion and love.
There are so many African stories that are yet to be told - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet
You are often nicknamed the “ Oprah of Africa”, why do you think people call you that?
In 2013 I had decided to put my investments and time to the launch of my network, Ebony Life TV. It was the first fully Nigerian-owned entertainment channel to be carried on the South African pay-tv platform – DStv.
Many take my work and development in the broadcasting industry as a following in Oprah’s footsteps. It’s an honor that they liken my work and journey to that of Oprah Winfrey.
My contributions and work in the range of original reality programming, drama series, and news magazines may be the outline that makes people compare me with Oprah, I guess. Also, talk shows have somehow resonated with black audiences both in Africa and its diaspora.
Ebony Life now airs in the U.K. and the Caribbean. It is soon to be airing in the U.S. and Canada.
Who are the inspiring people you’ve come across on this journey?
In 2006 I launched “Moments with Mo,” it then became the first syndicated daily talk show in the continent.
I’ve sat across from a remarkable range of guests, from Nigerian Noble Laureate, Wole Soyinka to fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, and even then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In 2013, I put my investments and time to the launch of Ebony Life TV - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet
What is your vision for creating African content in broadcasting and film?
We have many African stories that are yet to be told.
When I first approached DStv with the proposition that Africa was ripe for its own Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres show, I had already planned for a global TV channel opportunity.
I explored channel possibilities with SKY in the UK and knew that I needed a big platform to project Africa in a different, more positive light. This was what incited me to start thinking of establishing Ebonylife TV and take African Stories to the world.
The network’s global ambitions, sums up with the tagline “Made in Nigeria for the world”, tell us more about that?
To address this, Ebonylife TV last year partnered with Disney to co-produce “Desperate Housewives Africa,” which drew rave reviews across the continent.
Ebonylife TV has acquired the rights to “Dynasty” and “Melrose Place” from CBS Intl, and we are the next seasons of “Housewives.”
We want an increased African audience to be glued to the same TV shows as their friends and family overseas.
Tell us about the release of the movie “Fifty”?
The movie “Fifty,” was Ebonylife TV’s first feature film, which was picked up by Netflix and released worldwide. The film was showcased four successful career women facing difficult midlife crises.
“Fifty” is a film that reflects my broader desire to tap into unaccustomed narratives of Africa — and African women in particular.
We're celebrating women who work together to accomplish great things - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet
Tell us about the Ebonylife TV Sisterhood Awards you’re hosting.
This is what we have established annually to empower women to work together to accomplish great things and seek to celebrate women who have excelled in laudable achievements.
The Ebonylife Sisterhood Awards was launched during my 50th birthday celebration in September 2014.
The event was themed – “Mo @ 50, Celebrating sisterhood”, it was a celebration of the deserving, but unsung women in the society. Women not often celebrated or celebrated enough, but who are making significant impacts in their particular areas of influence.
We recognize awardees based on their demonstration of excellence, commitment, innovativeness, integrity, and national impact.
Do you have any career lessons to share?
Let us know here.