Meet Mo Abudu, the first Nigerian to chair the International Emmy Awards

Mo Abudu  [Instagram/iemmys]
  • Mo Abudu got elected as one of the directors of the International Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences in 2018.
  • Six months later, she has been appointed the chairperson for the 47th International Emmy Awards Gala.
  • Meet the media mogul making history and putting the Nigerian TV and film industry on the map.

Mosunmola 'Mo' Abudu has made history by becoming the first Nigerian to chair the International Emmy Awards.

This ground-breaking news comes six months after she got elected as a director of the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences, made of members from over 60 countries. It is tasked with "recognizing excellence in television produced outside of the U.S."

Now, the EbonyLife TV CEO has been appointed as the chairperson of the 47th International Emmy Awards Gala.

She joins a long list of accomplished media moguls to chair this gala. This exclusive list includes Adriana Cisneros, the Venezuelan CEO of Grupo Cisneros; Elisabeth Murdoch, media executive; Charo Santos-Concio, Chief Executive Officer of ABS-CBN; and Andy Kaplan, ex-president of Sony Pictures Television Networks and chairman of the 45th edition.

Preparations have begun for the event, which is set to hold on November 25, 2019, in New York.

Who is Mo Abudu?

She is a former human resources management consultant who left a great job to pursue her passion for media.

In her words, "Having been recruited by Arthur Andersen to serve as the administration manager to head their human resources and training unit, I simply left at the turn of the century because I had a dream. I wanted to create and do my own thing."

She became well known in the media world when she hosted and produced "Moments with Mo'', which is dubbed the first pan-African talk show.

Guests included celebrities, Nobel Laureates, and the former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It wasn't long before she became known as "Africa's Oprah."

Following the success of her syndicated show, she went on to launch her award-winning media company EbonyLife TV, which started airing in 2013. It is now available in over 11 million homes across the continent.

Since then, the network has created talk shows, TV series and blockbuster movies that can now be found on Netflix.

Her first two movies, “FIFTY” and “The Wedding Party”, both premiered at prestigious International Film Festivals. The Wedding Party is still one of the highest grossing Nigerian movies of all time.

Abudu's media company has also secured a three-project deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop high-quality African stories for worldwide distribution.

International recognition

In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter named her as one of the '25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV'. The next year, she received the Entrepreneur of the Year award by Women Werk in New York.

She was listed as one of ‘Forbes Africa Most Successful Women’ in 2015. Three years later, she was named as one of the '50 Women Making Impact in Showbiz' by Variety Magazine.

The media mogul was also featured in the 2018 UK ‘100 Black Powerlist’, alongside Meghan Markle, Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton.

This year, she became the first African to be honoured with the MIPTV (Marché International des Programmes de Télévision), a prestigious award given to senior executives who have made significant contributions to the global television industry.

Responding to the Médailles d’Honneur, Abudu said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank MIPTV for this incredible award. My big dream was and still is, to change the narrative about my continent. As a continent, Africa has remained creatively silent for centuries. Our stories seldom told outside of our families and villages and often from the perspective of “someone” looking in. It is therefore with great pride that we, at EbonyLife Media, bring our stories to the world with our TV series and our films.”

The University of Westminster also awarded her an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts for her outstanding work in broadcasting and enterprise in Nigeria.  

Abudu now goes all over the world to share her in-depth knowledge on the media industry. So far, she has spoken at the Cambridge Judge Business School, Harvard University and New York University Stern School of Business.


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: