() — ‘Luther’ TV star Idris Elba teamed up with Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu on a mission to champion representation and diverse storytelling in the global film and television industry.
The Golden Globe winner, of Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian descent, will work with Abudu to develop emerging talent from Africa through their respective production companies, Green Door Pictures and EbonyLife Media, the two said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The partnership will take a two-pronged approach: equipping students at EbonyLife Creative Academy in Lagos, Nigeria with the skills and experience they need to thrive in a competitive industry, and producing a slate of authentic African films and TV shows for the market. global.
The announcement comes seven years after Elba appeared in the UK Parliament and spoke about the importance of on-screen diversity for society as a whole. In 2020, she called for more diversity in an essay for the UK’s Times newspaper, writing that “when the going gets tough, diversity often suffers” and “we have a duty to develop new talent.”
The actor, best known for his starring roles on the television show “The Wire” and Hollywood movies like “Beast,” “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and “The Suicide Squad,” wants to work with budding African filmmakers, to ensure that the continent’s talent gets the attention it deserves.
“I have always been passionate about using my platform to make a positive impact,” Elba said in a statement. “By partnering with Mo, our goal is to deliver free, world-class industry education to the next generation of storytellers and bring their authentic voices to the forefront.”
Through his Lagos-based company EbonyLife Media, Abudu has produced original TV shows and hit Nollywood movies like “Fifty” and “The Wedding Party”. In 2020, he signed a multi-title deal with streaming giant Netflix to create two original series and multiple movies. The company has also partnered with film and television companies such as Sony Pictures Television, BBC, Lionsgate, and Starz.
EbonyLife Creative Academy, launched by Abudu in 2021, provides free education, mentoring, and production training on the film and television industry to 480 students each year.
The four-semester-long program, which includes courses such as acting, screenwriting, and sound, is open to applicants ages 18 and older and is funded by a combination of government grants and private donations. After graduation, alumni can hone their skills as apprentices on EbonyLife projects.
Speaking to , Abudu said Elba approached this to replicate the EbonyLife Creative Academy model across the continent after seeing the impact of the original Lagos school, and the couple’s long-term strategy is to implement another 10 -15 academies in the next five years.
“We are doing something that we haven’t done with any of our other partners, which is focused on capacity building across the continent,” he said. “If we want to make sure that we can compete globally, we have to make sure that our up-and-coming filmmakers have those skills.”
Elba described his collaboration with Abudu as “a step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse media landscape, representing the voices and experiences of Africa and its diaspora around the world.”
Abudu told that he recognizes the power of film as a tool for positive change and believes that collaborating with Elba is “another step in the right direction” to help build and foster authentic representation.
“There are stories that need to be told and I’m pleased that together we can build a beautiful slate of projects that we can bring to these streamers and broadcasters and we can say ‘Listen, the time is now.’”