Profile of Mo Abudu | YNaija Person of the Year 2021 Nominee

Within the entertainment business in Africa, very few (if any at all), can make boast of enjoying as much success as Mo Abudu in the year 2021. From initiating programmes for young aspiring filmmakers to building a tower of epic proportion, there was no slowing down for the business tycoon.

Mo Abudu’s rise to prominence is an inspiring story to say the least, one which would need its own book to do it justice. Looking at her now, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of it all, but behind the success was a lot of hustle, the likes of which many are not built for. Her journey, dating back to her talk show, Moments with Mo, was a ride the audience were a part of.

Spending her childhood in the UK, and by extension receiving a very sound education perhaps has a lot to do with Mo’s level of ingenuity and brilliance. Make no mistakes about it however, the level of accomplishment she’s attained in the course of her career in the media doesn’t come without its fair share of sleep depriving grind.

Mo Abudu has not only made a name for herself, but has over the years done the same for those associated with her. She’s a leader who carries those under her along, and a number of big players in the game can trace their success to her.

The foundation for the entertainment empire she’s building was laid back in 2006 with an idea she christened EbonyLife. Today, EbonyLife is one the most proficient entertainment outfits in Africa; churning out anything from cinematic releases, to TV series, and talk shows.

A true conglomerate in every sense of the word, EbonyLife has been behind critically acclaimed movie projects like The Wedding Party 2, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Chief Daddy, Your Excellency and Òlòtūré; all of which smashed box office records. Similarly, between 2020 and 2021, Mo Abudu did a lot to bring international recognition to the Nigerian film industry.

In 2020, a new partnership between EbonyLife TV and Netflix, saw the streaming giant acquire the former’s feature film, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel as well as a reality show, The Dating Game. The same was done for drama series: Castle & Castle, Fifty, Sons of the Caliphate, On the Real, and The Governor.

In the same year, Netflix signed a deal with EbonyLife, which involved the creation of two original series, as well as multiple Netflix-branded films. Among the highlights will be a film adaptation of Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka’s play- Death and the King’s Horseman, as well as The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives; a series based on Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling debut novel. Prior to that, earlier in the year; MC Networks (USA) announced its partnership with EbonyLife to produce Nigeria 2099; an afro-futuristic crime-drama created by the latter.

In October 2021, Mo Abudu was listed among the 20 Most Powerful Women In Global Entertainment by The Hollywood Reporter. Not long after, Forbes listed her #98 in its 2021 100 Most Powerful Women in the World list. She has also been referred to as the most successful business woman in Africa.

In November 2021, BBC Studios announced that it had inked a deal with EbonyLife Media for a development deal. Asides her direct hands-on projects with the Nigerian film industry, she also took on the responsibility of developing the craft of film making in Nigeria. A key detail to accomplishing this goal involved educating young people. With this in mind, she set up the EbonyLife Academy; a one-month long workshop for young filmmakers looking to find their way into the filmmaking industry.

The programme since its inception has received lots of positive reception, and it’s quickly becoming a gold standard for filmmaking academies. No doubt, it’s certificate would soon rival the likes of the New York Film Academy.

For film this year, Mo Abudu put in her blood, sweat and tears into the Nigerian movie industry; and to say the industry is much better with her involvement, would be a vast understatement.

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