Winners of Next Movie Star can’t go to Big Brother – Sola Fajobi

Sola Fajobi is the creator of the reality TV shows, Next Movie Star and Supermom. Following the successes recorded by the Next Movie Star in Nigeria, Fajobi is planning a significant incursion into the rest of Africa. In this interview with Reporter, Adedayo Odulaja, he says it is not a coincidence that three Nigerian participants of his show have emerged winners of Big Brother Africa


Next Movie Star used to be the most popular of your productions but that is not the case anymore especially with the soaring popularity of Supermom in recent times
We have reality franchise for Next Movie Star and Supermom but of course we have other brands like Dormitory Eight, a drama series and so on. Each of the brands has a specific audience. Next Movies Star is a youthful brand and for young adults between ages 18 and 23 in terms of participation and for viewership, it is for ages 10 and 40 or 50 basically. But Supermom is for the family, which means it has a broader audience.

Three people who participated in the Next Movie Star have won Big Brother Africa; does this pose a challenge to you at all?
Not exactly. From the onset, Next Movie Star was designed as a talent-driven and lifestyle show while Big Brother is basically a lifestyle show. If we have all the resources or even half of what BBA has, Next Movie Star probably would be bigger than it is. You see a situation whereby more people are coming to represent Nigeria but only the ones who have gone through the Next Movie Star win Big Brother. It is not as if we have any pact with Big Brother Africa, but that also tells you the depth of what Next Movie Star is about. What do I mean by depth? You need talent to act to win the Next Movie Star because we do not want a winner who cannot stand and be successful in the industry. People that have gone on to win BBA are people that did not come first in Next Movie Star. Kevin (Chuam Pam) came second, Uti (Nwachukwu) came second and Karen did not come first to third, but what you would realise also is that the winner of Next Movie Star cannot go for another reality TV show. Because once you win Next Movie Star, you cannot go for another reality show.

Is that a signed agreement or what?
Yes, it is part of the contract. Why do you want to go for another reality show where you can actually lose your confidence if you don’t win in that one?

Do your winners not get intimidated by the people in BBA?
What is the career that comes with Big Brother, can you tell me? It is just the fame and people do not realise it is a lifestyle show and the whole show ends in three months and after three months, it is all over. Name one winner of Big Brother in the last six editions who has had a career that has to do with reality shows.

Can you also name one Next Movie Star participant that has gone on to do greater things?
I can name 50 for you. I would start with Tonto Dikeh, Annie Macaulay and Kingsley Ogboso who have careers in their industry. We also have Portia Yamahan who has had a career in the industry since 2006. Moyo Lawal is there, Barbara Okojie who has a career in music, Adesewa in 2007, Uti who is presenting Jara now not because he is from BBA or anything but because of the training he went through here. There are lots of them; we still have Jonathan Wilson, Adams Adebola who is one of the lead presenters at Soundcity and a whole lot. So for Next Movie Star, there is a career path which includes acting, music, comedy and different kind of things in the entertainment industry so we try to prepare them for these things.

What does being the one who make these starts do to your brands or programmes?
As much as we regard it as an achievement for a Nigerian to win BBA, for me, that becomes a leverage but one thing is that participants of Next Movie Star, anywhere they go, not just BBA or even any reality show, they have been prepared to win even in life and the entertainment industry and it is probably the reason every single time someone from here goes to BBA, they win. That is because once you are selected for Next Movie Star you go through a series of training programmes which is two weeks but it is like two years of university combined and we are talking about different kinds of people, facilitating and training them. From the media, you take a typical Olumide Iyanda and a Steve Ayorinde to make up the five best; when it comes to movie directors, you take the five best also, same for producers, PR managers and people from diverse fields to interact with them. They are trained on how to dance and act with the likes of Joke Silva and Tunji Bamishigbin coming also and you cannot go through all of that and not win anything you face in the entertainment industry and that is why they are winning BBA or any other thing for that matter. The essence is, we develop the housemates, which makes us different from most of these reality shows.

What new plans are you putting in place for Next Movie Star?
Last time, we did Next Movie Star Africa and we did 10 countries and this year, I can confirm we are doing four different editions of Next Movie Star and that means there will be Next Movie Star Nigeria, Next Movie Star West Africa which will comprise of Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Liberia and it is being done in The Gambia. We are doing Next Movie Star Southern Africa which will be done in Malawi and will comprise of Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana and there is Next Movie Star East Africa which will be done in Kenya and comprises of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Would still agree that Supermom is more popular right now even before it started running?
Yes, because of the mother factor or appeal and I keep saying it that the idea is divine. It appeals to the family, to everybody and everyone would like to watch it all the time because everybody came through a woman.
Are you now looking into doing a tangible project after each edition of Next Movie Star, like a movie for instance?
There is no edition that ends that we do not do a tangible project. Dormitory 8 is a drama series designed for housemates of Next Movie Star immediately they finish and it runs for 26 episodes. It shows in Lagos alone on STV, MITV twice in a week and Superscreen and you know what that means. We don’t do our auditions over the Internet, you must come and we see you face-to-face and everyone gets to audition for about five minutes. So we get to meet you, interact with you because we are selecting based on the quality of your acting and not based on your face. You take them and put them in one house, excluding them from the hustle and bustle of Lagos and you get the professionals from various fields I mentioned earlier to come and train them. It is like a crash course and don’t forget we are not in the house to talk but act and each edition, we shoot 52 short films and viewers are watching at home and deciding who acts them better. Once a winner is selected, they go home to rest for a while and come back to shoot Dormitory 8.
Does everybody in the house get to act, not just the winners?
Dormitory 8 featured 11 housemates from the last edition.

How many were the housemates?
There were 16 of them. Some of them came from different parts of Africa and could not wait but had to travel back when Dormitory 8 was ready because it comes up like a month after each edition ends. So, instead of throwing them into town to start looking for auditions everywhere, you have given them their first job after training, promoting and creating publicity for them and you are paying them for that job. In that manner, you build confidence in them because you bring crew from outside of Next Movie Star.

What makes you confident Next Movie Star will be as successful in other parts of Africa as the Nigerian example?
Every country in Africa wants to have its own kind of Nollywood, and as they are crazy about the Nigerian movie industry, they want to develop their own locally because they want to tell their stories too and so when you get serious companies in such countries who invite you to come and add value to their industry, we would most definitely go.

Does that mean there won’t be the issue of funding or sponsorship anymore?
If you want me to talk about sponsorship, I will tell you some things categorically. In Nigeria, there are functions of sponsorship, which has to do with value, if the sponsor is going to get value from their investment. But I have research documents to show you that each of our sponsors at each edition has got more than four hundred percent value in return and so value is not an issue. I did not create the document; it was done independently and if you want that in details, I can provide it because MediaReach did it. In terms of brand affinity or association, I know some brands would not go well on Next Movie Star. For instance, I don’t expect Pampers to be advertised on the show because I don’t expect it to be used in the Next Movie Star house but of course I expect Always to be used because it is a sanitary pad for young ladies. So, it depends on the brand and what they want to achieve at a point in time. Next Movie Star and Supermom are proudly Nigerian, not imported from anywhere in the world but originally created here. So if brands feel they cannot get value, don’t invest your money but ask for value and we will give you. A lot of managers have lost focus and do not even know what sponsorship is, they do not know it is a partnership. The setting up of HiTV got some people excited that they will be able to fight the South African dominance of our media content but the Nigerian factor came in and see what happened. That is why it is better to do these editions to carry those of them along and excite them also. It is not entirely solicited for because really the vision has been there since 2010 when we felt we needed to interact with the countries. We went to those countries, interacted with them and most of them actually watched the show and we have partners in those countries who are with us each step of the way.

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