‘I’ve been bruised, dissed, bashed and even fired. Looking back, it was all worth it’
Excellence is defined by the ability and capacity to be great at what one does, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, a popular Nigerian television host is an exact replica of the word excellence in the electronic media industry, as she keeps her viewers glued to the screen each time she presents her breakfast show Your View on Television Continental (TVC). The brilliant TV host, who wears series of caps as Content Creator, efficient Project Manager, astute Media Practitioner and Media Consultant, among others, had lived in the United States for 10 years where she studied Political Science at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
In this interview with Guardian Woman, Morayo takes us through the pros and cons in the media industry where she has spent over a decade, her zeal to advocate for the girl-child and women, gender equality and balancing, the need for more female representation in the political space, her work with Lagos State technical partners on an education reform initiative called EkoEXCEL and more.
Tell us about your career in the media industry?
I started my career in the media back in 2005. I worked for a PR Company called CMC Connect, where I served as a Client Service Manager. My core duty was to have a thorough understanding of each client’s products, services in order to provide proactive business solutions. I also provided marketing solutions for clients to ultimately drive sales and increase visibility in the market. Part of my landmark achievement was to coordinate crisis management and ensure quality execution of all events. I later moved on to CUE Media, a content development company. I served there as Head, Content and Development, and later became Senior Executive, Marketing and Research. I developed a script (The Room), which won the New Directions pitch for M-Net on May 4, 2007. I also worked as Producer on a consumer education TV production for MTN Director – Dotun Seweje. I developed a TV reality show concept – Make A Joyful Noise. Then I worked on United Bank for Africa (UBA), documentary as a Producer.
I was the Concept Originator of “Girlfriends” (TV drama series), and “Shop Easy” and “Changing Lives” (Talk Show).
I then moved to HiTV, Nigera’s first indigenous cable station provider. I first served there as Business Development Manager and later became Head of Content and Channels Acquisition. Some of my landmark achievements were an increased advertising revenue from 2- digit figure, to 3-digit in two years. I also increased sponsorship revenue from $1m to approximately $20million in two and a half years. I successfully managed a two-month live reality TV show called Koko Mansion. My job as Head of Content allowed me to purchase local and international channels for the company at the best rates.
At TVC, I was hired as Deputy Director of Programmes and my task was to mainly convert the channel from a “news focus station” to a modern entertainment channel. This, I did with an effective team of young Nigerians. Today, TVC is one of the Top 3 channels in the country.
Aside the media, have you worked in any other industry?
Hardly. I had a brief stint at City Express Bank after my NYSC, but that was about it.
You have lived in the United States for 10-years; that is a long time. Why didn’t you just take advantage of the said golden American opportunities to stay back like some would have done, rather than come back to base to start your career?
It wasn’t exactly 10years but close. I had promised my father that I would not stay behind like my brothers. I kept remembering the conversation I had with my dad, the late Aka-Bashorun Alao, when I promised to return after my studies. My only regret is that I did not file for citizenship before leaving. At least if I had done that, I wouldn’t have to still line up for visa at the US embassy.
Tell us about the popular breakfast show you anchor ‘Your View’? What is the concept of the show and whose original idea is the show- yours, or your producer’s?
Living in the US, I was there when “The View” started in America. I fell in love with it and decided to have a Nigerian version whenever I returned home. So ‘The View’ is my concept, but I must always give credit to our Senior Producer, Mr. Lukman Musa. He brought in the singular ingredient that makes ‘The View’ and our other shows stand out, but I won’t tell you that secret.
As the Deputy Director of Programmes at TVC, what are the ups and downs of the job?
Trust me, there were crazy days and months. I have been bruised, dissed, bashed and even fired at TVC, but looking back, it was all worth it. God ordained my working at TVC and I’m thankful for that. I had wanted to resign many times but God kept saying it wasn’t time. My boss and mentor, Mr. Lemi Olalemi kept encouraging me to stay. However, there were more ups than downs. I had the best team working with me as the Deputy Director of Programmes before I resigned. They made it so worthwhile. We built TVC Entertainment together and today we are all reaping the benefits.
Being in the talk showbiz, and considering how it’s almost impossible to take back what has been said, does that make you feel the need to be self-conscious while you’re at work?
Yes, very true! I try to be very careful. As a moderator, I don’t usually have enough practice in sharing my views constructively as the other ladies do on a daily basis, so when I’m passionate about something, the passion precedes my words and sometimes comes out muffled and wrong. So I have learnt to take it very easy and be clear on my position before speaking.
What have been the pains and gains? Has this job opened doors for you?
There have been lots of gains in the sense that people know you and somewhat trust your character. People tend to give you things and invite you to their circles. The pain is the attention people expect from me, and pressure from different corners.
How do you manage the fame that comes with being a celebrity?
Just staying grounded. I have serious values and I don’t compromise.
You’re very passionate about issues relating to women and the girl-child, what is the drive? Is it mainly because you’re a woman or because you feel women are undertreated as human in our society?
The desire to start the show started from trying to give women a voice. Back in the day, when you see talk shows, you see men being invited to share their thoughts on national issues. We have to change that narrative. Women have viewpoints and should be heard, and that is what the programme ‘Your View’ stands to show.
As an advocate for women, do you think women are well represented in Nigeria’s political space?
The society and it endless expectation from women is the only thing stopping us, and it is a big deal. Many of us will like to join politics but we often weigh that option with our commitment to family. The latter usually wins the contest of the mind. We need more representation. Women with grown-up kids should come out and be part of the change we desire.
What do you think women should do differently to better their stake in the society, especially here in Nigeria?
Speak, speak and speak. We have the highest number of votes counted in most elections. We are the deciding factor, therefore, we must be heard. Let’s keep talking and making our points in the various ways available so everyone sees that if you do not meet the needs of women, you cannot become a leader.
Sometime in 2018, there was a huge controversy on your take over the issue of girl-child molestation during your show. How did that make you feel?
Personally, I accept that I spoke carelessly and loosely. However, the point I was trying to get at was very valid. I wasn’t hurt because I knew no one was above mistakes but what was most painful was how an innocent good man, my husband, was portrayed. That hurt to the depth of my soul. I thank God that gave him strength to pull through it.
How supportive has your husband been with your career?
My husband is extremely supportive. He is my number one fan. He pushes me, nudges me and directs me.
You’re currently working with Lagos State technical partners on an education reform initiative ‘EkoEXCEL’, tell us about the project and what it aims to achieve?
Yes, EkoEXCEL project is a designed and funded initiative by Lagos State Government that will drive excellence in learning for about 500,000 pupils across 1,016 primary schools. It is an education reform programme for primary school teachers that will successfully train, support and motivate government teachers to succeed in their classrooms.
Any role models in the industry that motivated you, or that you look up to?
Oh wow, there are so many of them. From day-one till now, it was Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Adesuwa Onyenekewe and Ibukun Awosika. Today, I study a lot of women and one woman has been in my thoughts and mind as I move to the next level in my life and that is Chimamanda Adichie. I love her calm, peaceful but strong personality.
If you were not a TV gal, what else would you be doing?
Believe me, I will be a correct (sophisticated) housewife that has breakfast in London and dinner in Japan. I love the good life of limited workloads, but I’m willing to wait for God’s time.
Can you recall some of your best moments on the programme?
So many memories. Just last Christmas, we gave out N500,000 to members of the audience; that felt really good. Some lady needed additional money for a kidney surgery and some of that money came in handy. Another memory was when we interviewed Aisha Buhari. We were all nervous but that experience left a lasting impression on all of us.
How do you manage your fan base, they must be very huge.
I have a sibling that helps me whenever she is home from school. When she is gone, I seldom check my messages. However, I’m making efforts to get better at engaging my fans.
How about those social media bullies, how do you manage them too?
My sibling is the one that reads up comments and tells me what is happening. She even goes ahead to block some people whose bully is with contempt or hate. So I’m learning how to block negative energy on my page now.
What success nuggets do you have for young ladies looking up to you?
The most important prayer a young woman must pray very early in life is on “purpose”. God must reveal your assignment to you. Once you get that, stay in your lane. The breakthrough may tarry but stay in that lane. God will show up and when He does, the world will see it and celebrate you.
Where do you see Morayo in 10-years?
In 10-years, Morayo will be an International influencer, a role model and a social crusader. I’ll remain in my space and God will direct the next steps for me. I’m doing a lot of project management and consulting work. I think I’ll remain here for now.
You’re a woman with many caps, how do you strike a balance between your career and family?
Truth be told, it is not easy. I don’t want to sacrifice my relationship with my family for career success. So, I’ll continue to do my best to ensure no side suffers. However, the moment I feel time with my family is suffering, I reverse to status quo. Nothing is worth the love and attention my family needs from me.
At what point do you tell yourself to take a break from all the work and relax?
The moment my husband begins to make the “Dangote” kind of money, which he will by God’s special grace, I will drop it all and take a big break. I also look forward to when I hand over Your View to the next generation of women. At that time, I’ll sit back in my home, with a plate of cheese crackers and juice, to watch them.