‘As a woman, you must work harder’
Deola Art Alade is the MD/CEO of Livespot360, a creative collective company based in Lagos. She attended Obafemi Awolowo University for her first degree before going on to Harvard business school for her masters degree.
An experienced interior decorator and record label executive, Deola oversees activities and makes strategic decisions that have helped grow the outfit. She produces the two biggest festivals in Nigeria; Livespot X Festival and Born in Africa Festival (BAFAST), which featured Cardi B. She also co-created the Love Like A Movie concert that featured international acts such as Kim Kardashian, Ciara and Kelly Rowland.
In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about birthing Livespot360 and the upcoming Entertainment Week Lagos, which intends to drive development, investment and interest in the Nigerian and African entertainment industry; why she believes Nigeria will top global entertainment conversations in the next decade and how smart entrepreneurs can seize opportunities available in this industry.
What really inspired Livespot360, how did the idea come?
LIVESPOT360 is motivated by a passion for precision and perfection and was born to be a one-stop shop for brands looking for solutions in the areas of media and advertising, experiential marketing, TV production, digital and tech, and entertainment. In building Livespot360, I had one goal in mind, to alter the world around me using creativity.
Livespot360 has worked on a variety of projects. Can you highlight some of them?
We have executed quite a number of exciting experiences of ours, and for our vast clientele. From our original productions such as Love Like a Movie, which featured Kelly Rowland, Ciara and Kim Kardashian, as well as Livespot X Festival, which featured Cardi B, Wizkid, Tems and so on, to a variety of others such as Nigeria’s Centenary Security Summit, Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST), The Voice Nigeria Season 3, Real Housewives of Lagos, Amazon Studios’ Last One Laughing, Netflix Blood Sisters Premiere, Airtel Data is Life campaign, Fenty Beauty Africa launch, NNPC: The Rebirth, Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Africa Premiere, just to name a few.
What do you enjoy most about curating these projects?
For me, it is the challenge and process of seeing a concept or idea come alive. At Livespot360, we pride ourselves as magicians that give life to your imagination. The thrill of executing what others might term ‘an impossible project’ gives me great joy indeed.
Talking about Entertainment Week Lagos, what’s the idea behind the initiative and what should people expect this December?
We believe that the African entertainment industry can fuel sustainable socio-economic development for the continent, and it is for this main reason that we are introducing Entertainment Week Lagos, to drive development, investment and interest in the Nigerian and African entertainment industry. From December 11 to 18, Entertainment Week Lagos (EWL) will play host to a lineup of activities, including The Circle (deal room, panels, keynotes, featuring global industry leaders), The Lab Spot (masterclasses, workshops), Film Hub, Live Café, Exhibition, Showcases, EWL @ Night, Immersive spaces including Gen Z Republik, Food Court and a superb music weekend with the Livespot X Festival.
In your opinion, how well is Nigeria faring when it comes to experiential marketing?
I believe we’ve come a long way towards embracing new and innovative ways of ensuring our marketing strategies are more immersive. More brands are now open to connecting with their customers in ways that make the experience more personal and likely to be remembered. Brands are now looking for full-circle, 360 solutions partners who can do much more.
Where do you see Nigerian entertainment 10 years from now and what strides is Livespot360 making to achieve this?
With the world focused on Nigeria, especially with the popularity of our culture, music, and strategic collaborations in the film industry, I am certain Nigeria will top global entertainment conversations over the next 10 years. Livespot360 is already prepared for this reality, through strategic partnerships, continuous innovation, and our most recent platform, Entertainment Week Lagos.
What are some of the challenges you face in catalyzing innovation?
Nigeria is currently experiencing a serious brain drain, especially when it comes to skilled workers. The new wave of ‘Japa’ is a super threat. Training and hiring technical experts in production is a more serious challenge now and this is an issue amongst others that we intend to discuss and proffer solutions to at Entertainment Week Lagos.
What investment opportunities in Nigeria do you think investors haven’t really taken advantage of in the entertainment industry?
One of the biggest challenges is venues and arenas that can accommodate thousands of people comfortably. Financing the entertainment industry is also an issue that needs to be addressed. Smart investors will see the opportunity in these and seize the day.
From your experience, what are your personal tips for growing a company?
Create a unique brand identity, have integrity, hire the right people, be informed, never stop learning, remain relevant by being the solution your clients recognise, and above all, develop a staying power, be resilient.
What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
Trust your intuition; use it as a foundation you can always rely on in moments of doubt.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken as a professional?
Charting a new professional path from scratch with no formal or prior knowledge or experience, yet throwing my all into it and making it a huge success.
Could you name someone, especially in the entertainment industry, who has inspired you the most?
Beyoncé Knowles, I am inspired by her hard work and dedication to her craft.
Any leadership lesson you’ve learned that’s unique to being a female leader?
The bar for effective leadership is high; it is even higher because you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry. Therefore, as a woman, you must work harder. No one is going to hand anything to you because you’ve got a pretty face. A lot of people are going to tell you, ‘Oh you can’t,’ but the responsibility lies on you to prove them wrong.
How were you able to survive in a male-dominated industry? Have you at any point experienced any situation that made you feel like you couldn’t handle things?
I survived through the dogged pursuit of success, focus, hard work, determination, and passion. Oh definitely, I’ve had my moments of doubt, but during such moments, it helps to remind myself of my ‘why.’ This keeps me going no matter how many times I feel like giving up.
What are the secrets to your success?
I won’t call them secrets, just tips that have helped me in business. They include the ability to spot opportunities; resilience – I am committed to completing whatever I start; integrity – in this line of business, it’s important not to cut corners; hard work – Yes work hard, but please work smart as well, and always deliver excellently.
What is next for you?
You’ll see, but all I can tell you, for now, is that it’s going to be very exciting.