Magazine article Variety

Nigerian Media Mogul Is AFRICA'S OPRAH

Magazine article Variety

Nigerian Media Mogul Is AFRICA'S OPRAH

Article excerpt

On a recent trip to Spain, Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu seemed to be losing sight of what was meant to be a short retreat. Late into the night she was still answering emails, returning texts and speaking with colleagues overseas.

"I don't really see my work as work," she said, laughing. "I just love what I do ... I'm totally addicted to EbonyLife TV."

Nearly three years after Abudu launched the upscale entertainment and lifestyle network, the woman often referred to as "Africa's Oprah" has a full plate: inking deals with the likes of Netflix, CBS and Disney; unveiling an ambitious slate of formats and original programming; and presiding over an expansion of the network from its original home in eastern Nigeria, with a new studio opening this month in Lagos, the country's entertainment and media capital.

It's all in keeping with a philosophy nearly a decade in the making, since Abudu became a household name with the debut of her talk show "Moments With Mo."

"There are so many African stories that are yet to be told," she said. "Let's take these stories to the world now. That's the journey we're on."

For Abudu, that journey has been many years - and unexpected twists - in the making. Born in the U.K. to Nigerian parents, she moved to Lagos in 1993 and spent more than a decade in the corpo- rate world, where she launched a consulting firm and, later, a hotel.

In 2006 she conceived "Moments With Mo," which would become the first syndicated daily talk show on the continent. Sitting across from an impressive range of guests, from Nigerian Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg to then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Abudu began to earn comparisons to her idol, Oprah Winfrey.

In 2013, Abudu decided to follow in Winfrey's footsteps with the launch of her own network, EbonyLife TV, the first fully Nigerian-owned entertainment channel to be carried on South African pay-TV platform DStv. With a mix of original reality programming, drama scries, newsmagazines and talk shows - including a spinoff of the show that made her famous, now called "Moments" - Abudu created a signature brand that resonated with black audiences both in Africa and its diaspora. EbonyLife now airs in the U. …

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