Idris Elba, EbonyLife’s Mo Abudu Partner on Africa-Inspired Film, TV Slate
Elba’s Green Door Pictures has set up a joint development slate with EbonyLife to back film and TV projects and new talent from Africa and the African diaspora.
Idris Elba and Mo Abudu COURTESY OF ALEX PIPER; KELECHI AMADI-OBI
Idris Elba and African media mogul Mo Abudu are joining forces to launch a film and TV joint venture that will back new projects and up-and-coming talent from Africa and the African diaspora.
The partnership between Elba’s Green Door Pictures and Abudu’s EbonyLife Media, announced Thursday, aims to “empower and uplift talent from Africa and the Diaspora” by backing a development slate of film and TV projects and, by supporting up-and-coming creatives and executives from those communities, to “build capacity and foster authentic representation” in the international industry, to give “stories from Africa and its Diaspora” the same “level of attention and respect as other cultures and communities.”
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Elba and Abudu said their production slate would focus on “authentic, Afro-centric stories” that can resonate with audiences around the world. Projects, ranging from feature films to series for television or streaming partners, will be set up as co-productions between Green Door Pictures and EbonyLife Media.
The joint venture will also provide education to up-and-comers, to help train and empower African talent to enter the entertainment industry, using EbonyLife’s creative academy in Lagos as a model that they plan to roll out across the continent. The group will support graduates of the program, giving them a fast-track to hands-on production.
“I have always been passionate about using my platform to make a positive impact,” said Elba, whose acting credits include Beasts of No Nation, The Suicide Squad and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. “By partnering with Mo, we aim to offer free, world-class industry education to the next generation of storytellers and bring their authentic voices to the forefront. This partnership is a step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse media landscape, one that represents the voices and experiences of Africa and its Diaspora around the world.”
With Green Door, Elba has produced such projects as the 2015 documentary Mandela, My Dad and Me, the 2017 mini-series Guerrilla for Showtime and the 2020 Western feature Concrete Cowboy for Netflix. Green Door has a first look deal with Apple to produce both series and features for AppleTV+.
Abudu’s Nigerian-based EbonyLife Media is one of the largest and most successful production companies in Africa, and is behind such series as Netflix’s Blood Sisters and Biyi Bandele’s Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman, a feature adaptation of the play Death and the King’s Horseman by Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. EbonyLife has several high-profile projects in the works, including Queen Nzinga, a series on an 17th century African warrior queen, which the company is developing with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson for Lionsgate TV as a starring vehicle for Yetide Badaki (Starz’s American Gods); and a feature film set up together with Will Packer Productions at Universal Pictures, on the life of Nigerian Instagram influencer and notorious scam artist Ramon Abbas, also known as Ray Hushpuppi.
“We believe that Africa has the talent and the stories to captivate the world,” said Abudu. “It’s our mission to offer the best in industry education, mentorship and production opportunities, so that our graduates can become valuable contributors to the global media landscape. We plan to hit the ground running and explore the very best that African and Black stories have to offer global audiences.”
Credit: The Hollywood Reporter