Given that Africa has been given the image of a constant charity case, that looks like she should be given aid instead of investments, this particular woman is determined to make sure this negative global perception of the continent changes. Try to ask a non-African to list the top five or ten Africans in the world that are powerful, successful, inspiring, creating change or making an impact and you can bet they’ll be tongue-twisted. Well, this is what makes this woman a force to be reckoned with and a woman the world should begin looking up to as the new encyclopedia for African successful people and stories. Documenting the real quintessential African story— the ground-breakers, game-changers of the continent— her television show and her platform do the job of changing the negative narratives and showcasing Africa’s sweet part and uniqueness to the world, bringing Africa and Africans, in a bright and positive light, to the global stage. From her Instagram page to her television show, the next time you want to learn about the top African in any industry, be sure to check out her page first to get the latest about the hottest rising Star out of this Continent.
Who is she? How did she get her start to be holding such a powerful stage at her fingertips? What does she think about Africa and her future? Does she think now is the time for you to come invest in this continent? Who are some of these successful Africans she’s had on her show? We sit down to ask her the NINE QUESTIONS on everyone’s mind when they hear the name Eunice Omole.
Fun, riveting, honest and Inspiring sit-down rapid fire chat with Host of Africa’s premier TV network show, Eunice Omole:
How would you describe your early days in navigating your career path to becoming who you are today?
I was raised by two immigrant Nigerian parents in the US who were firm and focused on instilling in me the importance of education, family, spirituality, and career success. I would describe my early days in navigating my career path as “meeting expectations.” My parents set high standards and expectations early during my elementary school years. The path was clear, or so I thought. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Economics, securing a job as a financial consultant in New York City. After 4 years and several promotions later, I felt I needed more. I felt I should be in a position to influence and affect change. I was hungry and needed more out of my life. I felt I could do more. Honestly, I was all over the place in my career, trying to figure out my passion and purpose. Very few lucky people know their career path early on in their lives. Then you have the rest of us trying to figure things out. While I held down my day job, I ventured into real estate, media, and investments. I came up with all kinds of ideas, and I just wanted to give each one a shot and see where it would lead me.
One day I decided I wanted to pursue Real Estate full time after working as a real estate agent part time. At the time, real estate was the hottest market in the US, and I wanted to be a part of it. I was accepted into the renowned real estate program at Cornell University and left my full time job. After graduating and having worked in China, Nigeria, and the UK, I decided to get an MBA to complement my real estate experience. I was accepted into the MBA program at the Johnson School at Cornell University. During my first semester, I applied for the reality show the Apprentice Africa in Lagos, Nigeria. I figured it would be fun. At that point in my life, I just wanted to live, travel, and seek the best that life had to offer me. Anyway, I was invited to join the cast of the show. I took a leave of absence from my MBA program and competed on the show. It was an incredible experience, and I ended up as the 1st runner up. I stayed in Nigeria for about 2 and a half years. I founded a company called O&M Media because I wanted to have my own production company and create programming to highlight the achievements of Africans, that I felt was lacking in the marketplace. My business suffered during the recession, so I returned to school and focused on journalism and broadcast media. I moved back to New York and took my old job working full time. Subsequently, I was accepted into the journalism program at Columbia University part-time. After graduating from Columbia, I was offered a job at EbonyLife TV as the Chief Strategy Officer in Nigeria and launched Hello Africa. Looking back at my early days and seeing where I am today, I do not regret any decisions that I have made. I have never felt so fulfilled in my career until now. All of the experiences, all of the travels, all of the open and closed doors helped me get where I am today.
About your show Hello Africa, how did the idea come about? Why did you choose to host it & why is a show like that relevant for Today’s Times?
Hello Africa was a labor of love, teamwork, trust, and perseverance. In September 2014, I contacted Mo Abudu about doing a late-night TV show in NYC focused on Africans in the diaspora. She really liked the concept and was just as excited to turn it into a reality. Being incredibly supportive and encouraging, she immediately looped in her team, senior producer/director Pris Nwanah and head of programming Pamela Ofoegbu, to collaborate on and develop the idea further. I knew Pris from our Apprentice Africa days, so fleshing out ideas and points with her felt like good times again. She was fantastic. Meanwhile, Pam patiently guided us through the development process. We first formatted the show and synopsis, identified our target audience, and brainstormed topics, guests, hosts, set ideas, time of day for airing the program, etc. Once we had a synopsis for answering all the show-related questions, we put together a treatment (i.e., the pilot episode on paper). Mo asked that I figure the cost of all the elements so we could put together a budget, including me as the host. Initially, I did not want to be the host, so I provided a detailed list of potential hosts along with their bios, social media followings, and advantages. In response, Mo shared her experiences with launching and hosting Moments with Mo, concluding that “No one can share your vision better than you.” Thanks to Mo’s encouragement, I took more ownership and became the face of the show. I’m so happy I did! Although overwhelming at times because I was working full time and going to school part time, I always had Mo’s full support—along with her reminders to keep it simple. As of January 2015, the show was called You’re Invited!; however, Mo and I continued to bounce ideas around and in February 2015 we changed it to Hello Goodnight, which we thought had a nice ring for a late night TV show. In March 2015, things quickly got real. Mo paid for the cost of production and editing. There was no turning back at this stage. In May 2015, Mo looped in Dami Amele, senior producer of EbonyLife TV and series producer for Moments with Mo and the new MOMENTS, as the supervising producer for Hello Goodnight. She oversaw the interviews and filming process and, by June 2015, we had interviewed 18 guests. We immediately went into post-production and editing in July 2015, where we stayed for months, during which time I worried the show would never see the light of day. In January 2016, Mo moved the entire post-production process to Lagos and looped in Doris Okafor as the supervising producer to manage the post-production process. Doris came in and literally saved the show. It was a huge turning point for us. She even came up with the new name of the show, Hello Africa, and produced the new pilot episode. I have never cried so many tears of joy in my life. I loved it! In June 2016, Hello Africa aired on EbonyLife TV. Thanks to Mo, Pris, Pam, Dami, and Doris, EbonyLife TV helped build Hello Africa. Mo invested heavily in making this show a reality, paying for the cost of production and editing, and Doris came in at the last minute to save the show. I had no prior experience creating a show at this level, and their support of me made my dream a reality. As Mo says, “Our success can never be achieved just by us, but by the people around us.” Indeed, I will be forever grateful for the supportive team around me. A show like Hello Africa is relevant for Today’s Times because it is also an online movement that seeks to present part of the narrative that is rarely told, espousing the successes of Africans who have shaken the world stage. Hello Africa puts a positive spotlight on Africans around the world, including celebrities, game changers, influencers, and other successful men and women. It is not about aid or charity, but about celebrating individuals’ global influence. It is a call to action for everyone—not just Africans—to come together and support a continent that has for so long been treated negatively. We seek to change the narrative about and perspective of Africa for the good, which starts with the people.
Do you think Africa is more attractive in these times and why or why not?
Absolutely. It’s exciting times for Africa. Africa is in the process of modernizing and truly participating in the global economy. It offers a number of economic opportunities that have not been available in the past. African countries are becoming more well-versed in technology and in different facets of modernity that have kept it regulated in, what some people tend to think of as, the proverbial third world. However, Africa’s attraction lies in the fact that because of this perception that was embraced by many outsiders, it has taken several strides to shift this image and become as contemporary as other Western countries. Another reason that I believe Africa is attractive these days is because of the impending stability that is affecting its political climate. This aspect of Africa is reflected in terms of both the continent itself and in terms of its individual countries. For instance, the political situation in Egypt was unstable in the last decade. However, that period of unrest was followed by a period of relative stability. This sort of stability is conducive to some of the gains that made different parts of this continent, which include various regions of economics, commerce, trade, as well as social and cultural boom, visible. We also see an increase in investments. Investors are looking beyond the developed markets. High returns and growth are captured in emerging markets. Many opportunities exist to invest in Africa, from infrastructure to the agribusiness to financial services and manufacturing. In a country like Nigeria with a population of over 170 million people, there’s a need to tap into the consumer market, especially the youth segment and growing middle class. By far, Nigeria is seen as the greatest potential for investment at a global level. From its GDP to population, Nigeria is too big a player in Africa to ignore. Investment in a country like Nigeria will unlock its full potential, and investors are hungry to tap into it. Global investors are pooling their capital into private equity funds and investing in financial services, media, and technology, to name a few. Finally, there is an explosion of interest in music, fashion, and film. For example, we see more cross over in music now than in the past, with many African musicians signing with labels in the US. We see examples of African fashion taking to the world stage with cover stories in Vogue and other influential magazines.
Who are some of the guests you’ve had on your show and what was your criteria for picking them to be on your show? Who has been your favorite guest so far or your favorite story so far? Who are some of the people you hope to interview in the future? Who is the number one person who, if you had a magic wand, you would like to interview on your couch tomorrow?
During the first season of Hello Africa, I interviewed guests, such as AKON, Marcus Samuelsson, Saran Kaba Jones, Femi Kuti, Florence ‘DJ Cuppy’ Otedola, Ivan Kagame, Kevin Olusola, Peres Owino, and more.
I took a look across different industries and sectors from business, music, fashion, film, business and short-listed key influencers who could share their inspirational and successful stories of how they got to where they are today.
The criteria were based on their growth story and its captivation and depth. It was important for their story to resonate with the audience— to make people feel a connection with them and learn from them in an entertaining way.
Akon’s story is one of my favorite stories so far because of his journey from the bottom to the top.
He has been through it all, from coming to the US and learning English to experiencing global success as a musician and businessman, to giving back with the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, motivating people across Africa. His story arch is inspirational—-if you put your mind to something that you want to achieve, you can achieve it even with little to nothing. I have a long list of people I want to interview in the future, some include President Barack Obama, Oprah, Edward Enninful, Lupita, Iman, John Boyega, and Charlize Theron, to name a few. I want to interview President Barack Obama. Hands down, he is one of the most inspirational stories of the diaspora of our time. His story is remarkable…a story of persistence and triumph.
On the Paradigm about Africa and the work EbonyLifeTV is doing to change the negative narrative about the continent, what effect would you really say it has had in that respect? Do you think through its media power; the global perception is changing finally for good? Is there a long way still ahead of us?
The work that EbonyLifeTV is doing to change the negative narrative about the paradigm for Africa is well-needed and, for the most part, efficacious. It is an extremely viable medium for helping to shape the perspective of people around the world about Africa. Through its media power, EbonyLife TV is helping to change the various images and words that people regularly see and hear about the continent itself. It provides a chance to displace many of the negative stereotypes regarding Africa and its various countries that still, unfortunately, persist to this day. The fact that it is backed by some of the major power players that have a genuine interest in propagating the culture of African Americans—specifically as it interrelates with that of its heritage in Africa—helps to produce this effect. In so many ways, television programming and media programming in general help to influence the various perceptions that people have about Africa. By providing a balance to some of the traditional negative stereotyping that is rife in the media, EbonyLifeTV is certainly doing its part to alter such archaic notions and update them with fresh, contemporary ones.
EbonyLife TV is instrumental in depicting what Africa and Africans are like today—regardless of where the latter may actually be located on the map. The paradigm about this great continent has certainly shifted towards one that is more inclusive, realistic, and ultimately, more positive. The reason that it is changing for the better is due to the power of the media of which EbonyLifeTV is an integral component. It will take time for the media to change global perception and produce a permanent effect.
What do you think about the African youth being half of the population in the continent, and faced with tremendous challenge, especially unemployment. What is your advice for the youth, and for investors still having doubts about Africa?
African youth today face a fairly serious situation. While Africa has undergone some advancement to mitigate the effects of unemployment across a bevy of nations, it is essential that young people in Africa make a dedicated effort to become educated—as early as possible. It is necessary that they concentrate on achieving a good education so that they can rise above what actually can become temporary circumstances. Doing so can directly affect posterity. First, it can give African youth a tangible goal. It is very important to maintain the awareness that their future and success in education can influence the economic future of the various countries in Africa. The combination of these factors—the faith that investors should have in the country and the prowess of the youth to gain the skills necessary to become employable— should positively affect Africa’s future. Maintaining focus on education, however, is only half of the situation. The larger scope of the problem involves investors who still have doubts about the social, economic, and cultural prowess—and progress—that Africa is in the process of enacting. Investors can improve much of the continent and of the future generation of Africans by keeping their eyes on the proverbial prize, which in this case is actually Africa itself. Investors need to take advantage of the changes that Africa has enacted on all of these fronts and place their bets on Africa.
What role do you see yourself playing in taking Africa to a global stage, through your show? How do you suppose your show is going to make a real impact? Why should we say Hello to Africa and why should the public tune in to watch or follow the program?
As the host of Hello Africa, which is about the new Africa that is gaining credence throughout the international stage, I have a principal role in actually introducing our various viewers to the different facets of the continent. I also have a fair amount of input on various topics and subjects that the show covers. Moreover, I have a significant influence on the ways in which those subjects are handled and disseminated to our increasing viewership. As one of the most visible components of this show, it is up to me to ensure that our viewers are educated, entertained, and impressed by relevant content that continues to shape the perception of both Africans and Africa itself. It is vital to ensure that these stories are both accessible and important to people in order to produce a positive effect on the current perception of Africa. Part of that effect certainly involves seeing examples of success and the effect that such success has on both the assortment of guests of the show and on Hello Africa. The public should tune in to watch and follow the program. By putting a spotlight on the various entrepreneurs, entertainers, and power players who are part of the African diaspora, the goal of the show—and my personal charge as well—is to encourage others in our global community to aspire to similar success. We need to say Hello to Africa because we are here and we need the world to know and understand our value globally.
Media stages like EbonyLifeTV are big influencers, so that makes you a major influencer as well. Any future plans for you to do some more programmings, aside from the current show?
In light of the fact that media stages, such as EbonyLifeTV, are major influences on popular culture and the world itself, I definitely have future plans to do additional programming aside from Hello Africa. I have traditionally maintained a solid presence doing media-sponsored events for multiple causes and organizations that are aligned with my overall objectives of curating opinions, experiences, and appreciation for Africa. In this respect, Hello Africa is a valuable platform and gives the continent and its many worthy causes more exposure as well. My primary focus has been, and will continue to be, on challenging stereotypes while highlighting some of the major accomplishments of individuals who might be lesser known to the general population. I can achieve this goal in a number of different ways. Doing so consistently at the sort of international level for which I am I aiming will almost certainly require additional programs and media events.
Where do you envision Nigeria and Africa as a whole to be in the next 10-15 years from now?
I feel as though Africa and Nigeria will have a positive influence on the international stage in the next 10 to 15 years. I envision them to be stable. The next decade and a half should see both Africa and, historically, one of its most prominent countries on the international stage, Nigeria, achieve the degree of stability that has hampered the continent and its nations in the past. I envision Nigeria manifesting the sort of political stability that is required for long term financial success and investor support. One can argue that the progress that Nigeria has made on its economic front during the past several years is ultimately indicative of that of Africa in general. In particular, the local commerce of this country is expanding its influence. I believe one out of every five black persons in the world is a Nigerian. That is powerful. This sort of business hegemony will provide an excellent example to the other countries that are attempting the same sort of economic progress upon which Nigeria has long embarked. By patterning themselves after Nigeria, Africa’s other nations should be able to solidify their presence on the global stage as a whole.