In July of 2013, British-born Nigerian talk show host Mo Abudu debuted EbonyLife Television, a multi-media venture into modern African entertainment and news. After spending years working in talk television, Abudu expanded her horizons to create a media platform that showcases “Africa at it’s best,” or, as Abudu herself describes it, “Africa’s Africa.” Little did she know that this venture would garner attention from entertainment icons and dignitaries all over the world and earn her Forbes‘ recognition as one of Africa’s most successful women.
Growing up as one of the only black girls at her Kent school in the UK, Abudu often faced ignorance from her peers regarding what Africa is really like. She wanted to show people how diverse and beautiful the Continent is rather than have them continue with harmful stereotypes. After her education, she returned to Nigeria. A career as Head of Human Resources and Administration for ExxonMobil helped Abudu hone her business skills, making it easier for her to transition into the entertainment world.
Despite having no television experience under her belt, Abudu decided to be the change she wanted to see by launching Moments with Mo in 2006. She first approached DStv, one of the biggest digital satellite TV services in Sub-Saharan Africa, but they were uninterested in pan-African content. However, her dream was soon realized through M-Net, and Moments with Mo became the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television. With guests from all over the world (including a “Mo”ment with Hillary Clinton), Abudu’s show earned her comparisons to her idol, Oprah Winfrey.
After seven successful years as a talk show host, Abudu knew she had to expand even further. EbonyLife TV launched in 2013 and made Abudu the first African woman to own a pan-African TV channel. This channel shows viewers the sophisticated, modern side of African culture and entertainment. According to her interview with Forbes, Abudu wanted content that is “both inspirational and aspirational, celebrating style and success while motivating the audience to dream and dream big.”
Abudu’s influence reaches to many genres of entertainment. In 2016, her studio produced the film The Wedding Party, which broke box office records in Nigeria. She continues seeing success in the film business as she heads EbonyLife TV. She encourages young, business-minded women to never see their gender as a handicap and to always work with passion–and she also hopes to someday meet Oprah Winfrey in person.