Mosunmola Abudu is a Nigerian Media Mogul, philanthropist, and former human resources management consultant. She is recognised as one of the most powerful women in Global Television.
Who is Mo Abudu?
Mo Abudu is an entrepreneur with a predilection for television. In 2013, she founded EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle network. Her main goal for the channel was to promote a more positive image of Africa. The Governor, about Nigeria’s first female state governor, and Desperate Housewives Africa were among the inspiring series that followed. Mo
has also been dubbed “Africa’s Most Successful Woman” by Forbes, and she is the first African woman to own a Pan-African TV channel, according to Forbes Africa.
Mo Abudu was born in the West London borough of Hammersmith. Her father was an engineer who passed away in 1975, and her mother worked as a caterer. Mo’s family originates from Ondo Town, which is located in southwestern Nigeria. She is the eldest of three sisters. She moved to Nigeria at the age of seven to live with her grandparents where she attended Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School in Nigeria till the age of 11, before returning to England at the age of eleven.
Mo attended Hammersmith County Secondary School before transferring to the Ridgeway School in Kent, where she lived with her local guardian in Tunbridge Wells.
She continued her education at West Kent College and Mid Kent College before earning a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Westminster in London. Mo Abudu is also a member of the British Psychological Society and is qualified in occupational and personality testing.
Babcock University awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (Honouris Causa) in 2014, and she went on to receive an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Westminster in 2018 for her contributions to the Nigerian broadcasting industry.
Finally, in 2018, Abudu received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Westminster.
Mo Abudu lives in Lagos with her two children, Temidayo, a daughter, who is a film and TV producer, and a son, Adekoyejo, a budding art consultant. Mo was formerly married to Tokunbo Abudu.
Mo Abudu had a brief modeling career during her time at university and shortly after. In 1983, she was selected to be the brand ambassador for AVON Cosmetics for the African market. Having completed her master’s degree in human resources, she began her career as a recruitment consultant in the United Kingdom in 1987. She later worked for the Starform Group, in 1990 where she managed their Corporate Credit Management Exhibition for two years.
She went on to work for Arthur Andersen and led the Human Resources and Training unit for Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited from 1993 to 2000. Mo revealed that she valued this exposure because it provided her with an understanding of the corporate world, which she later used to help her own business ventures when she relocated to Nigeria. She then established Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited (VLA), her own human resource development firm. One of her projects was to create an executive training center at the Protea Hotel in Lagos’ Oakwood Park.
Mo’s Transition to ShowBiz
Mo Abudu was in her late twenties (and her children approaching their teenage years) when she decided to change her career path from human resources to media and show business. It was, in her opinion, the only way she could have the desired impact on people’s perceptions of Africa.
As part of her mission to change global perceptions of Africa, Abudu took the plunge into filmmaking with the creation of EbonyLife Films in 2014. Before which she took on the roles of Executive Producer and host of her television talk show called ‘Moments with Mo’.
In 2015, she executively produced her debut film, Fifty, directed by Biyi Bandele, produced by Tope Oshin Ogun, and starring Nse Ikpe-Etim, Ireti Doyle, Omoni Oboli, and Dakore Akande. Fifty was the highest-grossing drama and number one film in Nigeria. It was screened at the London Film Festival and was one of Nigeria’s biggest blockbusters. The film’s numerous successes, both domestically and internationally, led to its acquisition by Netflix the same year it was released.
EbonyLife TV & Film
In 2006, Mo Abudu started Ebonylife TV (ELTV), Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network. Airing in more than 49 countries across Africa, as well as in the UK and the Caribbean, EbonyLife TV transmitted its first broadcast on the 1st of July 2013 on Multichoice’s DSTV Channel 165. The network airs original inspiring programmes targeting the global black audience in order to present a realistic view of Africa and its future path to prosperity.
EbonyLife TV, now ranked among the top 25% of most watched channels on the DStv platform, launched a premium, multi-screen VOD platform targeting Africans in the diaspora less than a year into operations. Following a carriage agreement with another pay-TV operator, StarTimes, it expanded its Sub-Saharan African reach. Among the notable TV drama series executive-produced and/or produced by Abudu and aired on ELTV are Desperate Housewives Africa in partnership with Disney, Castle & Castle, Sons Of The Caliphate, On the Real, and The Governor.
In 2016, Abudu co-executive produced The Wedding Party with The ELFIKE Collective, directed by Kemi Adetiba and starring a star-studded cast, The Wedding Party premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to become the highest-grossing title in Nigerian box office history. Netflix purchased The Wedding Party in 2017.
In 2017, Abudu co-executive produced a sequel, directed by Niyi Akinmolayan and starring the cast of the original film. The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai surpassed the original film in terms of domestic and international revenue, making it the highest-grossing Nollywood film of all time.
Abudu also executive produced the film Oloture, the story of a young, naïve Nigerian journalist who goes undercover to expose the shady underworld of human trafficking. The film was directed by Kenneth Gyang and starring Sharon Ooja, Omoni Oboli, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Omowunmi Dada, Kemi “Lala” Akindoju, Wofai Fada, Bukola Oladipupo, Pearl Okorie, Ikechukwu Onanaku, David Jones David, Sambasa Nzeribe, and Omawumi Megbele.
In March 2018, Sony Pictures Television (SPT) announced a three-year agreement with EbonyLife TV to co-produce The Dahomey Warriors, a series about the legendary Amazons who fought French colonialists in a 19th-century West African kingdom. Mo was named chair of the 47th International Emmy Awards gala, which took place in New York on November 25, 2019.
Africa’s Queen of Media
As CEO of EbonyLife Media, Abudu has made a name for herself in the corporate world, with Forbes calling her “Africa’s Most Successful Woman” and CNN calling her “Africa’s Queen of Media who conquered the continent.”
Abudu is in charge of all five divisions of EbonyLife Media, which include EbonyLife TV, EbonyLife Films, EbonyLife ON, EbonyLife Studios, and EbonyLife Productions Limited (UK).
The Inspire Africa Foundation
Abudu was instrumental in the establishment of ‘The Inspire Africa Foundation,’ a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for the implementation of societal transformation initiatives. In 2009, the Inspire Africa Foundation co-organized a charity concert with other non-profit organizations under the theme ‘Rock with a Conscience.’ The funds raised were used to improve the lives of less privileged children.
The foundation also operates a charity store and a children’s shelter known as ‘The Harbour.’ Abudu has contributed significantly in her personal capacity, in addition to raising funds through her foundation. The Harbour was built to provide a safe haven for those in need. Situated in Ibeju, Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. In partnership with Moreno Construction, proceeds from the Inspire Africa Benefit Concert held in 2009 and a personal financial contribution from Mo Abudu, The Harbour was completed in 2014.
Mo’s Net Worth
Mo Abudu was named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of $10.5 million.
Awards and Recognitions
- Recognised by Forbes Africa as First Woman to Own a Pan Africa TV Channel (2013) ● 25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV by Hollywood Reporter (2013) ● Entrepreneur of the Year at International Women’s Day Forum in New York (2014) ● Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) from Babcock University (2014) ● Listed as one of ‘Forbes Africa Most Successful Women’ (2015)
- Movie Producer of the Year (English) at City People Movie Awards (2015)
- Special Recognition at City People Movie Awards (2017)
- IoD Entrepreneurial Award by Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoDN) (2017) ● FAME Award of Excellence (2017)
- 50 Women Making Impact in the Showbiz by Variety Magazine (2018) ● Glazia Persons of the Year Awards (2018)
- African Achievers Awards at UK House of Common (2018)
- Awarded the MIPTV’s Médailles d’Honneur, in Cannes, France. The first African recipient. (2019)
- listed in the Powerlist, listing the Top 100 of the most influential people in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent. (2020)