Mo Abudu speaks on movies, Ebony Life, how she got into the media business and her directorial debut.
In the interview, Mo Abudu spoke on a range of things such as Banky W and Adesua's relationship, the sequel of "The Wedding Party 2", Kemi Adetiba, Ebony Life, her taking director classes and when she will be getting married again.
You can read the full interview below;
Genevieve Magazine - Mo of Africa or Oprah of Africa
Mo Abudu- We need to look at it where it started from; CNN started it. And this is because the western world always needs to relate it back to something that they find "us" comparable to in their world. Because if not they cant understand it. For instance, when we did Fifty, some said it was like Waiting to Exhale when we did the Wedding Party, some said it was like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Therefore context and comparability is key to the Western world and that's how Oprah of Africa was coined. CNN has also called me Africa Queen of Media, now that sounds fab!
Genevieve Magazine - You always wanted to meet Oprah
Mo Abudu - Yes. Many many years ago and it would still be an honor to meet her. But in a way I am we glad I have not met her yet, I may have felt it, the world may have even felt that the relative success that one has enjoyed was due to that, but no one and I means absolutely no one can take the glory away from God Almighty. I know that everything I have achieved is purely by his grace and divine favor.
Genevieve Magazine - How did you go from being an HR consultant to becoming this media/ entertainment powerhouse? When did you realize you wanted to do this?
Mo Abudu - At that time, I did not see it as going into the entertainment business as such. It was more about creating a platform that would enable dialogue amongst us. The creation of Moments with Mo gave people of Africa a platform to express their views on a variety of topics, social, economical, celebrity lifestyle, political, topical issues and the like. I had worked as an HR practitioner for many years, I had worked as a training consultant for many years.
My job entailed interviewing candidates all day long for a variety of positions the most junior to the most senior. My job entailed standing in front of a classroom full of people and making presentations on company induction programs, at times on leadership, at times on customer service, at times on leadership, at times on project management etc.
ALSO READ: See photos from Mo Abudu's birthday dinner
So the switch to now sitting in front of a camera interviewing someone in their life, or what they did for a living was easier to overcome. And realizing I wanted to do this, I have to say came to me, like most of my ideas came to me, deep in the middle of the night. I hear a voice that I know is my God almighty directing my every step. And it's up to all of us to listen. You start to see the signs when you start to see things falling into place.
When I started my journey with "Moments with Mo", I wanted to start with a bang and my bang was my most treasured interview with Prof Wole Soyinka. I will be forever grateful and thankful to him for giving me the opportunity he did to be my first guest on my couch!
Of course I realized very quickly the power the media had to change lives and mindset and very early on in my Moments with Mo days, I created two other shows, "The Debaters", a show that gave our youth a platform for self-expression was sponsored by GTBank and "Naija Diamonds" a show that celebrated our unsung heroes was sponsored by Diamond bank.
Then came the bigger vision many years later, the birth of Ebony Life TV, a global platform that would be targeted primarily at the youth with a vision and passion to empower and showcase their worth and talent to the world. This journey we took with our partners DSTV and Multichoice Africa. They have given us the opportunity to empower so many and change so many lives. Thank you, Multichoice Africa, for the opportunity.
Genevieve Magazine - EbonyLife headquarters recently relocated to Lagos!
Mo Abudu - I don't want to say we have relocated, I'd rather say we restructured and have expanded our operations. There can be no sentiment in running your business, it all has to make financial sense.
It's important to look at what structure works best and this is why we have moved our production of our entertainment shows to Lagos, shot 3 incredible drama series in Calabar recently, they include The Governor, DERE and LIFE 101. It made logical sense to produce those dramas there because of our studios, the locations and being away from all the distractions of Lagos etc.
The one constant about business is that its dynamics and changing and one needs to adapt as those changes occur. If we do not change, our businesses become unprofitable and uncompetitive. We did not want that to happen to us. We are in our 5th year of operation right now, so a change was due and ready to happen.
We have restructured our broadcast schedule, production schedules and ways of doing business to allow for growth and innovation. We continue to work out of Lagos and Calabar. And most importantly we appreciate the support and partnership we continue to have with Cross River state Govt.
Genevieve Magazine - You make what you do seem so effortless, but what has it taken to get this far?
Mo Abudu - PASSION. VISION. FOCUS. HARD WORK. Whats the point if you don't find passion in what you do. As the saying goes, "love what you do, do what you love". For me, passion is the key driver. I have done many things in my life, but one key ingredient in them all at the time of doing them is the passion I feel. I never wake up bored, I wake up excited.
There simply are not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do! I love being creative, I love making films, finding people's passion, making people productive, training people, finding meaning out of nothing. No matter what we do, we need to find purpose in all the energy from it though, but I thank God almighty for giving me the strength to keep going.
Genevieve Magazine - "The Wedding Party" was a resounding success. What do you think was the clincher?
Mo Abudu - I think the success of the Wedding Party was the fact that it was relatable. It cuts across all social strata, it was star-studded, it was funny, entertaining, great production value, we had a wonderful premiere, great marketing and supportive sponsors that made so many things happen. A big shout out to Diageo and Dubai Tourism.
Genevieve Magazine - Why a sequel though?
Mo Abudu - There is more story to tell, so we wanted to take the opportunity to tell it. Now The Wedding Party is an ELFIKE COLLECTIVE PRODUCTION a combination of EbonyLife Films, Film One, Koga and Ink Blot. I have to say there is value in partnership when they work, and our Wedding Party 2 story was actually by a member of our Collective, Naz Onuzo of Ink Blot. Incredible script.
And the title to our sequel is "The Wedding Party 2, Destination Dubai". We retained literally all of our original cast and we have a few new faces as well. We shot on location in Lagos and Dubai. We promise not to let you down this Christmas!
Genevieve Magazine - There have been all kinds of talk about Kemi Adetiba, who directed TWP, didn't direct the sequel...
Mo Abudu - Kemi was not available at the time of our shoot. I love and respect her dearly and look forward to working with her again.
Genevieve Magazine - Speaking of The Wedding Party; the Internet exploded when stars; Adesua Etomi and Banky W broke the news of their engagement. Did you know about the big and best-kept secret?
Mo Abudu - At some point, I was in the know. But it was still private and it was for the couple to share their news with the world when they were ready to do so. I remember vividly the day they shared the news on social media, it seemed like the whole world was happy.
The Wedding Party had now become a dream in real life, everyone was posting The Wedding Party poster of the two of them. It's lovely to see young love blossom and its lovely to see why the chemistry between them was so intense on screen as well. Love them both dearly and wish them a lot of happiness together.
Genevieve Magazine - A little bird told us that you recently took to a course in film directing in the UK. When do you hope to make your directorial debut?
Mo Abudu - I love to learn new things. I love creative space. I think directing is one of the highest forms of creative expression. I took the course to learn about the at of directing, understanding the fundamentals. The London Film School gives you this. It was the most incredible experience and really big takeaway for me. "It all begins and ends with a story".
Actions are more important than words, visual expressions more key than dialogue. Working with actors is so fundamental to the entire process. I am not sure when I will debut as a director, but soon I hope.
Genevieve Magazine - What's the biggest misconception about Mo?
Mo Abudu - I think I'm totally misunderstood. I don't think a lot of people really understand me as a person and that's the biggest challenge. Some think I am unapproachable, hello everyone, I am not o!
Genevieve Magazine - In your line of business, especially starting EbonyLife TV, there must have been some occasions of failure and rejections. How did you deal with these?
Mo Abudu - Oh, several but failure teaches you lessons that move you to the next round. For example, EbonyLife has not failed but I have made plenty mistakes which I had to learn from. Also these things make you stronger and more creative.
Rejections and failures should make you more determined to succeed. I have learned not to take anything personally when rejection comes. These things happen in the line of business. It's hard for everyone to see the vision no matter how good you are at sharing it. But one primary factor that has never failed me, I believe in the law of averages, it could be one in every 10, or 20 even 100 people, you would find one person that would say yes to your proposal, passion, your project. The key is self-belief, passion, focus, hard work and put God first.
Genevieve Magazine - What is the biggest challenge you've had to face so far?
Mo Abudu - I think the biggest challenge for me is that I try to do so much. I don't do things one at a time. I like to do them all at once. Most times, I feel like "why is God giving me all these ideas?", but I am grateful for them. I meet many who are searching for these ideas, meanwhile, some of us have an overload of them. But one key trick now is to delegate and find teams of people to work with internal and external teams that share the passion and dream.
Genevieve Magazine - What does it mean to be MO ABUDU?
Mo Abudu - The word 'No' does not exist in my vocabulary. I am passion driven. I love a good challenge. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, things have to be just right. I love to dream big and look fear in the face till it goes away. You have to be undaunted, gusty, focused and undistracted from your goals. These have worked for me pretty much. You must stay winning and most important of all, I love God!
Genevieve Magazine - Let's talk fashion. Who are your favorite international designers?
Mo Abudu - I am not defined by labels. I can go from Zara, H&M to the big brands.
Genevieve Magazine - Favourite Nigerian Designers
Mo Abudu - I love Deola Sagoe, Lanre DaSilva, Bridget Awosika, Tiffany Amber, Kehinde Ebiye. There are so many beautiful designers to choose from.
Genevieve Magazine - You're rocking your natural hair now,
Mo Abudu - Yes and am loving it.
Genevieve Magazine - What do you do stay fit?
Mo Abudu - I do the gym, I have two instructors. One comes Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and the other comes Tuesdays and Thursdays and they get me out every morning. Great way to start the day. Then I try not to eat more than twice a day.
Genevieve Magazine - How do you stay young and beautiful?
Mo Abudu - I think I have a happy gene, a contentment gene and a taking care of myself gene
Genevieve Magazine - Are you a shoe or bag person?
Mo Abudu - I am a shoe person.
Genevieve Magazine - Red lip or pink lip?
Mo Abudu - Neutral both day and night though. Banke makes me do red and dark lipsticks.
Genevieve Magazine - When you are not working?
Mo Abudu- I spend time with my kids, my mum, see my closest friends, watch a lot of films, get beauty sleep and then do the spa and plenty of travel.
Genevieve Magazine - Who are three of your favorite Nigerian actors?
Mo Abudu- I could go on and on but Zainab Balogun is one of my favorites. She totally nails it in. The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, our new Romcom has been selected to screen at The Toronto Film Festival.
Genevieve Magazine - What are you most grateful for?
Mo Abudu - I am most grateful for my mother, she has been my pillar and prayer warrior, my children who continue to make me proud, my friends who are always there for me as support, the incredible team I work with, most importantly, God, it takes a dedicated walk to fo this far so I thank the people that have taken this journey with me dedicatedly for coming this far with me
Genevieve Magazine - What next?
Mo Abudu - I don't know o. That's the thing about God. when you think you have plans, God comes in and tells you this is his plan for you. So, I leave myself open to all possibilities.
Genevieve Magazine - Is Mo getting married again soon?
Mo Abudu - AMEN (laughs heartily)...and Amen