Apart from her arresting figure and height, which will allow many people to mistake her for an ex-beauty queen, Abiola Alabi, the M-Net Africa’s Managing Director, is an inspirational person who symbolizes a hard -working African lady, who fights like a man but wins as a woman. Though brainy, bold, and focused, how she is wagging her magic stick to get things running smooth for M-Net in Africa remains a mystery. Little or nothing might have been read about who Biola Alabi really is? And the success of most of M-Net’s concepts and ideas might have spoken volume of Biola’s capability and versatility on the job, which people of little minds believe is meant for men, but AWW took on the cool and calm lady of passion and she revealed more about herself. Enjoy the excerpts.
For a woman to be steering the affairs of M-Net in the whole of Africa that woman must be confident and hardworking. How have you been coping?
It is not different from any other job or waking up every day to face life’s challenges and all that. There is nothing special, but I thank God for everything.
How did you get into M-Net’s fold?
It all started in New York when I was working in a company called Sesame Workshop, a global company. I was working on their international strategy, which was about looking into international markets and local production of ‘Sesame Street’, a total television show in a local market. And one of the markets I was working on was Africa. I was travelling round Africa, working with different broadcasters and producers to set up a local production of Sesame Street. I have worked in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and started working in Nigeria. That was when I met lots of M-Net people while still working in Africa.
How have you been managing all M-Net’s ideas like African Magic, M-Net Action, M-Net Series Studio 53, M-Net Face of Africa, Big Brother Africa among other brands and events?
I have been able to manage them very well because I have surrounded myself with people who are smarter than I am. They have been managing all the brands; they are committed, highly- talented and determined.
You actually joined M-Net as a spinster, how are you combining your matrimonial home and the highly- tasking M-Net’s work, now that you are married?
I have a very supportive and understanding husband. I made a commitment to be always at home at the weekends and I am always at home most of the time because I travel twice in a month. It is not as bad as it looks. I may be having lots of outside meetings but mostly I am home at night.
What normally propels the motives behind all M-Net’s concepts?
Most of the concepts always come from member of the team. More so, we do use research and opinion polls as our compass. We ask our viewers about what they would like to see or what they want from M-Net and we look at it and also look at what is going on globally as well.
If you have to be frank, which of M-Net’s programmes and channels has the largest viewership?
I will not be able to answer that question, but I think all our channels and programmes have their successes and large viewership. It is about finding a right channel for the right person and that is why we are trying to develop more channels.
Most of your concepts always gulp lots of money, how do you normally cope without sponsors?
One of the biggest things for us at the M-Net is to continue to invest in the market that we have our high potentials, and we believe that sponsorship, partnership and support would come when they see our investment and commitment.
What informs what you wear?
I have my own personal style. I have ways in which I like to look, and what I am comfortable with. These dictate what I wear.
What about your beauty routine?
I make sure I wash my face before I go to bed. That was what experts have told me to be always doing and I always try to moisturize my skin.
Which of the M-Net’s channels is your favourite?
It will be very difficult to pick one because I love all M-Net’s channels for different things.
Apart from Big Brother Africa let’s talk about other contents?
We are very proud of them and like I said, we are investing because we believe that the local content is the driver for our business. That is why we made investments in Face of Africa, which we believe transforms women’s life and showcases talent from modeling perspective. ‘Naija Sings’ is the same thing; it’s about providing the right platform for young people and old to showcase the talent in the music and beauty of Nigeria. We produce contents that showcase Africa in positive light and most of our productions can go head to head with any global production in the world.
‘Naija Sings’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ are of your suspened popular reality shows and people are actually clamouring for their return. What are you doing about it?
We are always hoping to bring them back but we need right partners and sponsors for them to come back. We had great sponsors the last time. It’s all about sponsorship.
What about your memorable moments as director of M-Net in Africa?
One of the memorable moments is when you see the change and transformation you make in someone’s life, when you are able to present them cheques. I think we have been able to do that with ‘Naija Sings’, Face of Africa and Big Brother Africa. When the moment comes that someone wins and you know it’s an opportunity to change his/her life, most especially in Africa. I think those are still some of the most important moments in my career.
Do you have any particular moment you ever felt like quitting?
No. All I ever felt was that, we can do things better. Yes. We had some obstacles, but I’d never felt like quitting. I love my job, love what I do, love the opportunity that people give us to entertain them and the personal relationship we have with people and our viewers
Let’s take a quick peep into your family background…
Like every other parent, my parents are professionals. They don’t really know much about television and they have always wanted their children to be professionals like them. My Dad is from Ondo and my mum is from Osun State. Both lived in America for so many years and have lived in Nigeria. We the children have a little bit of both. My parents are very supportive of what we wanted to do, but their idea for us was to become medical doctor or something like that. Moreover, when that did not happen what they did was to support us and I think I have not done too badly.
Do you speak Yoruba language?
Yes, I do.
Is being a broadcaster one of your childhood ambitions?
When I was very young, I always wanted to be a journalist and when I was growing older, I decided to be a doctor due to environmental influences. Life always takes you on a different journey, but I am very lucky and fortunate to end up here.
With your physique and height, has it ever crossed your mind to be a model or to contest in a beauty pageant?
It has never crossed my mind, never! I am not interested
What got you attracted to your husband?
He’s such a wonderful man, a beautiful person all round.