Africa

Mo Abudu Isn’t Waiting for Permission

Abudu’s takeaway? “If you don’t take the responsibility to change the narrative, when you leave your storytelling to someone else, then you can’t blame them,” she said.

By 2013, “Moments” had made Abudu a household name in Nigeria. Seeing opportunities, Abudu went full Winfrey and started a Pan-African television network: EbonyLife TV. In 2020, Abudu’s umbrella company, EbonyLife Media, abandoned its TV channel to focus on a model based on partnerships with some of the world’s biggest streamers and studios.

Today, among what Abudu described as “over 30 deals,” many not yet announced, EbonyLife Media has contracts with Netflix, Sony Pictures Television, AMC and Westbrook Studios, the production company founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I’ve been knocking on these international doors from Day 1,” she said, “but you know, people weren’t ready to listen.”

At the start of EbonyLife TV, in 2013, the mission centered on lifestyle programming that showcased the booming, cosmopolitan continent of the 21st century. But Abudu has been gradually flexing her muscles and broadening her creative palette.

“Castle & Castle,” which Abudu co-created and executive produces, is about a Lagos law firm run by a husband and wife, whose respective cases threaten to destroy their marriage. With that series, Abudu wanted to focus on legal issues that were specific to Nigeria. In one episode, for example, “there’s a case around lesbianism,” she said. “It’s actually still illegal to be in a homosexual relationship in Nigeria.”

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