Netflix Inks Partnership Deal with Popular Nigerian Filmmaker ‘Mo Abudu’

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  • Netflix said that they are working with Mo Abudu because of her “passion for creating high-quality, riveting multi-genre films.
  • The first-of-its-kind partnership in Africa will see Mo Abudu, work with the teams at Netflix to produce five projects: two series and three films.
  • Two of the projects include a series adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and a film adaptation of Professor Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.

As part of its continued expansion into Africa, Netflix has announced a partnership agreement with Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu to adapt two Nigerian literary classics for the screen.

The first-of-its-kind partnership in Africa will see Mo Abudu, work with the teams at Netflix to create a series adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a film adaptation of Professor Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, two Nigerian Netflix-branded films and a series.

Mo Abudu aka “the Oprah of Africa” is the owner of EbonyLife Studios – one of the biggest production company in Africa. Her production company, Ebony Life Studios has produced box office Nollywood films such as “Fifty” and “The Wedding Party,” both of which have grossed over US $15 million combined since its release.

Speaking on the Multi-Title deal, Netflix’s lead for original series in Africa, Dorothy Ghettuba, said that they are working with Mo Abudu because of her “passion for creating high-quality, riveting multi-genre films.”

“We’re thrilled about this first-of-its-kind partnership in Africa that will bring some of Nigeria — and Africa’s — most iconic storytelling to screen. We look forward to supporting Mo as she brings all these diverse Nigerian stories to the world,” Ghettuba said in a statement.

Mo Abudu reacted to the partnership deal with Netflix saying the partnership is a testament to Netflix’s investment in African storytelling. She later took to her Instagram handle to tell her 728k followers about the deal and how she secured the rights to the books.

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Good morning beautiful People ❤️💕💖💝 . . Such great news to share with you today 😊😁🙂💃💃💃 . . EBONYLIFE today has made history as the first African and first Nigerian production company to sign a multiple deal with Netflix. . . The deal signed by EbonyLife with Netflix is unprecedented and groundbreaking on our continent. . . We will over the next few years produce two major IP titles – "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" by the super talented writer, @LolaShoneyin and "Death and the King's Horseman" by Africa's first Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka . . In addition to these two IP titles, we will also be producing a slate of original shows created by EbonyLife exclusively under license to Netflix. . . I am thrilled and grateful to #MyAwesomeGod, The Netflix team @DGhettuba #BenAmadasun and of course the incredible EBONYLIFE team. . . It truly is time to tell our stories and I am super pleased that we have an opportunity to do this now in partnership with the world's leading internet entertainment service with 183 million paid members in over 190 countries. We really are truly changing the narrative and I am so grateful. 🙏🙏🙏 . #AfricaRiseAndShine #NigeriaToTheWorld #EbonyLifeChangingTheNarrative #NetflixEbonyLifePartnership #NetflixXEbonyLife #MyAwesomeGod #SlideLeft

A post shared by Mo Abudu (@moabudu) on

While there is no public mention of the figures involved in the deal, industry experts estimate that it could run into hundreds of millions of naira, based on Netflix’s acquisition of Nigerian movies in the past.

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Good morning beautiful people.❤❤❤⁣ ⁣ Thank you so much for all your beautiful messages, reposts, phone calls, whatsApp messages, text messages and emails received yesterday, congratulating us on our multiple deal with Netflix. I am truly thankful by the outpouring of love and support. God bless and keep you all. I pray God gives you all the desires of your hearts. 🙏🏽🙏🏽⁣ ⁣ ⁣ I mentioned a few weeks ago, that Professor Wole Soyinka was my very first ever interview when I started my talk show, Moments with Mo in 2006. Many years later after my journey into TV and Film, it occured to me that i wanted to produce IP related projects, so again I reached out to Prof and made my request to acquire the rights to Death and the King's Horseman ( what a daunting task that was 🙂🙂). Lets just cut a long story short, 😊😊due to the pedigree and importance of this work, It took a considerable amount of time getting to closure on this, but we eventually did 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽. Now 5 years later I have the opportunity to produce this incredible piece of work in partnership with Netflix. I could not be more pleased. God is truly awesome🙏🏽🙏🏽⁣ ⁣ Dear Prof, thank you so much for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to produce such a historical piece of our literature.⁣ ⁣ Below is a quote from Prof, which forms part of the press statement issued yesterday: “In a creative industry which, even in pioneering countries, is so male-dominated, it is always a delight to see robust challenges offered by the female gender, and of attestable quality. Mo Abudu's incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating. It becomes part of one's sense of achievement if one has contributed, however minutely, to the creation of an enabling environment.”⁣ ⁣ Prof has such a way with words. I love the way he writes😊🙏🏾⁣ ⁣ #AfricaRiseAndShine #NigeriaToTheWorld #EbonyLifeChangingTheNarrative #NetflixEbonyLifePartnership #MyAwesomeGod #ExcitingTimesAhead.

A post shared by Mo Abudu (@moabudu) on

On securing rights to Lola Shoneyin’s debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Mo Abudu revealed in an Instagram post that her desire to produce the book started from reading the book in 2017. According to her, she was immediately struck by the plot and said she knew it would make a great film or TV series.

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Good morning beautiful people.⁣ ⁣ It's been such a glorious weekend ❤❤❤⁣ ⁣ Once again, thank you all so much for all your beautiful messages.⁣ ⁣ I am so excited about our slate of projects with Netflix, and our first Netflix Original Series will be THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI'S WIVES. ⁣ ⁣ I had heard so much about the book and l only got round to reading the book in 2017. As soon as i finished reading it, I knew this had to become a film or TV series, my next assignment was tracking Lola Shoneyin down and convincing her to give me the rights to the book. 😂😂💃🏿💃🏿⁣ ⁣ Oh boy was I in for a ride or what 😂😂, my concerns ranged from would she trust me, would we get on, would we support each other as women and so much more was playing on my mind, but I kept an open mind and approached Lola with complete transparency and honesty about my intent and desire to acquire the rights to Baba Segi. One meeting led to another, this took a minute 😁😁, but I was patient, we have over the years become friends and eventually the deal was done 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽. But I must add, that on meeting Lola we just connected, it was as if I had known her all my life. We have the most fascinating discussions and she cracks me up non stop 😂😂😂.⁣ ⁣ Dear Lola, thank you so much for trusting me with this precious work. ❤❤ We are super excited about partnering with Netflix on bringing this story to millions of people around the world.⁣ ⁣ Below is a quote from Lola, which forms part of the press statement issued on Friday : “I was thrilled when Mo contacted me about making a show out of my novel ,The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I’d turned down so many offers but this one felt right. It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer.” ⁣ ⁣ #MoAbuduXLolaShoneyin⁣ #BabaSegiComingToNetflix⁣ #AfricaRiseAndShine #NigeriaToTheWorld #EbonyLifeChangingTheNarrative #netflixebonylifepartnership

A post shared by Mo Abudu (@moabudu) on

Lola Shoneyin said in her statement that she had turned down several other offers to make a show out of the prose, but was thrilled when Mo contacted her, striking her as the right person for the deal.

“It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer,” Shoneyin said.

Soyinka, whose play is being adapted into a film, said in a statement that it is a “delight” to see Abudu’s production company, EbonyLife, thrive in the male-dominated filmmaking scene.

“In a creative industry which, even in pioneering countries, is so male-dominated, it is always a delight to see robust challenges offered by the female gender, and of attestable quality. Mo Abudu’s incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating,” he said.

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