Years after Mo Abudu established what is now known as the biggest media brand in Nigeria, EbonyLife, the media mogul is on a mission to rival world-acclaimed Oprah Winfrey while leaving an indelible mark on broadcasting across the continent and the world.
"Your ability to make things happen is what makes you different."
These words, expressed by Mosunmola Abudu, also Mo Abudu, on an episode of her show ‘Moments with Mo’, best describe the media entrepreneur’s career.
Setting the media personality apart from her contemporaries in the industry is the incredible amount of grit and passion she possesses, which can be matched only by a few.
An Exceptional Broadcasting Career
With a broadcasting career spanning over two decades, the creator and executive producer of the well-received reality TV show, ‘The Debaters’, has successfully built an empire that has become one of the largest in Africa today, EbonyLife TV.
The TV channel, since it began broadcasting on MultiChoice DSTV Channel 165, has aired some of the most inspirational series ever produced in Africa, including ‘The Governor’, ‘Desperate Housewives Africa’, ‘Sons of the Caliphate’, and ‘Castle and Castle.’
After the 2013 launch of EbonyLife TV, the continent’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle channel, Abudu went on to establish its film production unit, EbonyLife Films, in 2014.
The alumnus of London Film School, where she took a course in directing and producing, wasted no time in putting her skills to good use and began producing movies.
In collaboration with The ELFIKE Collective in 2016, she produced ‘The Wedding Party’, which soon became the highest-grossing movie of all time in the Nigerian film industry. She went on to executively produce or co-produce other riveting films, including ‘The Wedding Party 2’, ‘The Royal Hibiscus Hotel’, ‘Chief Daddy’, ‘Your Excellency’, and ‘Òlòtūré.’
Making International Business Moves
Described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman” and rated as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television” by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’, Abudu soon began making major international business moves, one of which was signing a three-year deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) in 2018.
Two years later, in 2020, AMC Networks (USA) announced its partnership with EbonyLife to produce an afrofuturistic crime-drama. In February of the same year, Netflix acquired streaming rights to EbonyLife’s drama series. In June, Netflix signed a deal with EbonyLife to create two original series as well as multiple Netflix-branded films.
Since her days as a recruitment consultant at Atlas Recruitment Consultancy Firm, UK, the 56-year-old Ondo State native, who was born in Hammersmith, West London, has always been a go-getter.
She rose to the position of branch manager at the recruitment consultancy firm within three years, from 1987 till 1990. She then made the move to Starform Group, where she stayed till she returned to Nigeria.
While in the country, she worked for Arthur Andersen as Head of Human Resources and Training for Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (Exxon) for a decade before leaving to start her own outsourcing firm, Vic Lawrence and Associate Limited.
Africa's Oprah or Nigerian Winfrey
Her roles as the executive producer and host of ‘Moments with Mo’ in the 2000s fetched her critical acclaim, and she was often compared to Oprah Winfrey, with ‘The Independent’ and ‘Slate Afrique’ calling her “Africa’s Oprah” or “Nigerian Winfrey” respectively.
The show, which aired on M-Net with TV coverage in 48 African countries, had had over 200 episodes by 2009. With aired topics, ranging from lifestyle to music, guests had included celebrities, presidents, Nobel Laureates, and the 67th US Secretary-of-State, Hillary Clinton.
Abudu was also honoured at the University of Westminster with a Doctor of Arts degree for her giant strides in the broadcasting industry and her invaluable contribution to the media.
Funded by Guaranty Trust Bank, Abudu’s reality TV show, ‘The Debaters’, which premiered in 2009, focused on “giving Africa a voice” by promoting oratory. The co-owner of the five-star hotel, Protea Hotel, Oakwood Park, Lekki Expressway, Lagos, has a vast portfolio which she keeps building each day.
The recent launch of EbonyLife Place, a luxury lifestyle and entertainment resort, is one more feather in the industrious Abudu’s cap.
There is more, however, to this powerful woman than media and entrepreneurship. A philanthropist whose love for supporting society is second to none, Abudu owns the foundation, Inspire Africa Foundation, and in partnership with Moreno Construction, she completed a one-hundred bed home for street children in Lagos.
She is also a devoted mother-of-two and grandmother who loves family.