Her name is Mo Abudu

Mo 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 inspirational 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 among others.

In her quest to change global perceptions about Africa, Abudu took the plunge into filmmaking with the creation of EbonyLife Films in 2014. 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 Oloture, a feature film about a young, naive, female journalist goes undercover to expose the shady business of human trafficking in Nigeria and encounters a brutal 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 endeavors in the corporate world, and Forbes described her as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman” while CNN said she was “Africa’s Queen of Media who conquered the continent.”

Abudu oversees all five divisions of EbonyLife Media, which includes EbonyLife TV, EbonyLife Films, EbonyLife ON, EbonyLife Studios, and EbonyLife Productions Limited (UK). Opening summer 2019, EbonyLife Place, a luxury entertainment resort will feature a boutique hotel, gourmet restaurant and luxury 5-screen multiplex in the heart of Victoria Island in Lagos.

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 recognition. 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.

She was nominated to serve as a member of the Advisory Group on Technology and Creatively for Nigeria in 2018 as well. She was awarded the 2019 M├ędailles d’Honneur in Cannes at the Marche International des Programmes de Television (MIPTV). She was one of the 4 recipients of the award, which she received in April 2019. Abudu is represented by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

She 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.

She has two children: a daughter Temidayo, who is a film and TV producer, and a son Adekoyejo, who is a budding art consultant.

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