DAYS to the official launch of her new TV platform, Ebony Life, media entrepreneur, Mo Abudu spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on how the concept came about, her target audience and more. The launch scheduled to hold on Sunday, June 30, 2013 in Lagos will have Steve Forbes, chairman and Editor in Chief of Forbes Media in attendance and many important personalities.
Mo Abudu tells her story…
How was the idea of Ebony Life TV conceived?
From day one, when I approached MNET, I was already requesting for a channel opportunity. I equally explored getting
channel on Sky in the United Kingdom. This was in 2006, but as with all tings God’s appointed time is the best. Perhaps, if I had attempted the journey of Ebony Life TV before now, it would have been a disaster, because now all the pieces fit together so well. We have produced the most amazing content that some said wouldn’t be possible. We have the most amazing team, passionate Nigerians with a few experts making history in media and production.
And this whole success story just wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Cross River State Government and Studio Tinapa, the only purpose built studio facility in Sub-Saharan Africa. And of course, our financiers, First Bank Plc, who understood our passion drive and business model. DSTV, for giving us a Pan-African platform to fulfill this dream. It took us four years to get the final sign off, but looking back I have to say the wait was worth it.
What is the channel’s set target and how do you intend to achieve that?
Ebony Life TV’s set target or vision is to be the preferred global network for premium African entertainment. We intend to achieve this by creating original, premium and inspiring content with an African soul that showcases the best of Africa for a global black audience. My vision for Ebony Life TV is to create content that speaks to the continent’s most important demographic –the youth, the custodians of the present and of the future aged 18 to 34. No one is speaking to this key demographic of the continent. They crave a platform for self expression. They want a voice. They want to be heard and we at Ebony Life TV think it is time for them to be heard. We equally believe that this important demographic sees a different Africa, an African that tells its own story through the showcasing of the continent’s best. Also very vital is the need to give African brands, big and small the opportunity to be seen on a glob al scale, showing to the world that African brands are more than capable to compete with the world’s best.
Many TV contents are begging for my attention, why would you want me to watch Ebony Life TV?
The programming on Ebony Life TV is original, fresh and inspiring. Most important, we are speaking to the youth. The truth is that no one is really speaking to the youth in Africa and they make up to 60 per cent of the population on the African continent. We have done our research and studied the key passions driving this dynamic target demographic. We know what it takes and have what it takes to engage them. Our unique array of programming which includes talk, lifestyle, reality, entertainment, drama, comedy and more will definitely hold the target spell-bound and keep viewers glued to their TV sets.
What is the idea of Forbe’s attending the launch later this month and how were you able to get his commitment?
As a network that believes in Africa, it was only natural that we would always celebrate the best of Africa. I mean, Africans who have and continue to have significant influence on the media, entertainment, business, political and economic landscapes of the continent. Forbes is a world renowned establishment which has become a symbol of destination across the world for recognizing worthy business decision makers, investors and progressive individuals for making real impact around the world by stimulating business growth, spearheading innovation, creating employment and influencing great change in the economy of the world, or of their nation. We are, therefore, grateful to the establishment for buying into our vision and idea to do this. The procedure was one that saw us go back and forth for quite a while, it entailed months of intense research and a thorough verification by Forbes after which he (Forbes) decided to be a part of our noble plan to celebrate the best of Africa.
How are you going to manage Moments with Mo and the running of your new TV platform?
Moments with Mo is in its seventh year now and to God’s glory, the programme is practically on auto pilot. From a humble beginning, it has now grown to become an internationally acclaimed show, established as Africa’s first and only daily talk show, inspiring millions of people in many parts of the continent. The programme is now set to be a daily show, running on Ebony Life TV, Africa’s first Global Black Entertainment channel. Also, viewers will be treated to a truly amazing experience as I would be joined by two engaging and formidable new co-host who together with me will continue to make Moments with Mo the platform for inspirational and successful Africans and then wonderful stories which transcends all spheres of interest.
What has even sustained Moments with Mo till date?
It has absolutely been the grace of God. It has been an amazing journey and we remain eternally grateful to have tremendous support from friends who have continuously believed in us through the years. This incredible journey. This journey would never have seen the light of day without certain people believing in me, Mr. Sola Akinfemiwa, former MD of Skye Bank who invested in Inspire Africa; Joe Hundah, then MD of MNET who gave Moments with Mo a window on MNET in 2006, MTN for being my most consistent sponsor over the years and many others who believed in our vision and sponsored the show.
What do you consider your best achievement in life?
My children any day anytime. In my own small way I have done a number of things I am proud of which include setting up Vic Lawrence, still a leading force in the HR consulting space today. The conceptualization of Protea Hotel, Oakwood Park, now running into its tenth year, Inspire Africa, Moments with Mo, now in its seventh year, Naija Diamonds and of course, The Debaters reality show. But my kids top it all. I thank God for giving them to me as a special gift.
At 49, and with so much achievement you will agree God has really blessed you?
Oh yes! He has and I am very grateful. Thank you Lord.
What lessons will you say life has taught you?
Life has taught me never to give up, no matter what happens, you must never give up. The secret to success as I have learnt is that sometimes the toughest times are usually the precursors of the greatest breakthroughs. So, never give up. I found out that I am often being spurred on by those who say, ‘No.’ If anything else, the law of averages and statistics says somebody will eventually say yes. So, keep going. Not everyone will agree with you, sometimes you meet people who agree with you or share your views and at other times you meet people who don’t. All you have to do is work with those who agree with you and with those who don’t agree with you, simply move on.
What do you cherish about life?
What I cherish the most about life is the ability to make the impossible possible, making something out of nothing. I believe that if you can think it, you can do it and I thank God because He has always being there for me. My faith in God propels me to continue to achieve because this has been the story of my life. The fact that Ebony Life TV was only sometime ago just a dream and the fact that it has now become such an amazing reality gives me great joy and happiness. I know that with focus, hard work and determination, the impossible can be made possible.
In what ways has your childhood shaped you to where you are now?
A lot. I grew up with my grandmother in Ondo and I learnt a lot from her that I can say has really shaped my person and character. Growing up with older people exposes you to great wisdom and believe me, my grandmother was very, very wise.
How were you able to cope with the death of your dad when you were still so young?
It was really painful. I was only 11 when my father died. It has made me stronger and very independent. I miss my dad terribly. He was kind and gentle and I have the fondest memories of him.
Where do you get the strength from in terms of family support?
My mother, she is my pillar of support. My mother tells me that I can do absolutely anything. She is always praying for me and encouraging me, she is my number one supporter and fan. I also draw support from my children currently in England and all grown up and independent. I am no soccer mom but I am there for my kids at all times and I thank God that I have children who understand me. I miss them a lot as they are in England studying. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. She holds me up 24/7. Not forgetting a few friends who have become family and last but not the least my large Ebony Life TV family. I spend most of my days and nights with them. Without them the Ebony Life journey would never ever have been realized.
What is the secret behind your ever radiant look?
That depends on if I am having a bad or good hair day. I don’t know what it is. I will be 50 next year and I wonder, where is the grey hair? Where are the wrinkles? And I still seem to have perfect sight, no glasses yet. But I think it runs in the family. If you meet my mom, she is in her 70s and she doesn’t look it. I am obsessed with beauty treatments, facials, diet and exercise. I think that helps. I also indulge in cakes and ice cream but never for long before I correct my ways. Good or bad, I am always on a diet.
Where did you spend your last holiday?
Which of your dreams are yet to be realized?
The day you stop dreaming is the day you die. I believe there are quite a few of my dreams that are yet to be realized and I trust God for life, grace and the wisdom to see those dreams through.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2013