The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has named Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Media, as Chair of the 47th International Emmy Awards Gala. She is the first African, male or female, to land the coveted role. Following her appointment as the first African director of the Academy, the move signals a change in the opportunities opening up for television content producers on the continent.
Abudu launched EbonyLIfe TV in 2013, with a mission to change the narrative about Africa. In 2014, she started EbonyLife Films, which has created the three highest-grossing films in the history of Nollywood. In 2018, EbonyLife announced a three-series scripted deal with Sony Pictures Television, followed by an agreement with another major US studio to develop an African science-fiction TV series.
At the gala held on November 25 in New York City, Mo Abudu said, “These partnerships are the first of their kind between Hollywood studios and a Nigerian television company. We are happy to be at the forefront of forging these new partnerships because it is truly about sharing our local stories with a global audience, stories that are historical, authentic and progressive.”
Stand-up comedian and actor Ronny Chieng, a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and star of Crazy Rich Asians, hosted the gala, while businesswoman, philanthropist, author and former model Iman presented the Directorate Award to CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Actor Conleth Hill, known worldwide for his role as Lord Varys in Game of Thrones, presented the Founders Award to the show’s creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Mo Abudu’s guests included Zain Asher, News Anchor, CNN International; Shuli Adebolu, Hon. Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture; Abiola Oke, CEO, OkayAfrica; Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor (The Wire); Heidi Uys, Head of Programming, EbonyLife Media; and Eunice Omole, Head of Strategy, EbonyLife Media. The visit was supported by Lagos State Government.