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Big Brother Nigeria… Fame, fortune beckon for housemates


­­­­Ebuka and Marvis

­­­­Ebuka and Marvis

The maiden edition of Big Brother Nigeria held in 2006n was a huge success; the reality TV show provided something fresh in the country’s showbiz industry at the time. Aside the live show on DStv, the weekly eviction show, which was staged at the Big Brother House located somewhere in GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, was the main attraction; the place is always packed full.
Hosted by Olisa Adibua and Michelle Dede, the eviction show, which featured music performances and other side attractions, was always a spectacular that ends with the eviction of one housemate. To many, experiencing the eviction show is usually more interesting that watching the show on tv; it was an opportunity for networking.
Therefore, when Multichoice announced the return of Big Brother Nigeria, after about 11 years of hosting the first edition, excitement filled the air. For those, who are used to Big Brother Nigeria, it was just another opportunity to welcome ‘Biggy’ to Nigeria, but for other, who witnessed the first Big Brother Nigeria in 2006, it is more than just a t show.
However, since the show commenced airing, there’s been wild controversy over the decision by the promoters to shoot the reality show in Nigeria, as against what was obtainable in 2006. In fact, the Federal Government has since directed the NBC to investigate the matter, while some angry Nigerians have continued to vent their anger on social media. Notwithstanding, the show must go on and the excitement seems to be picking up every day.
Over the years, factors such as the burgeoning telecoms sector, emerging technologies, and high volume of quality film productions, have all played significant roles in the accelerated growth of Nigeria’s entertainment industry. The result, which ranges from increased global appeal, wider acceptance, triple-A ratings, have shown entertainment as a key socio-economic enabler. 
Another key growth driver for the industry is the quality of innovative reality TV shows that the industry boasts of. Creative shows such as The Voice Nigeria,MTN Project Fame and others have attracted good sponsorship from world-class brands, which lean on such platforms to deepen their inroad to huge audiences. Perhaps, the craving of Nigerians for innovative and peerless creative shows explain why leading video entertainment company, MultiChoice Nigeria, re-introduced Big Brother Nigeria now Big Brother Naija (BBN), after a 10 year hiatus from the entertainment radar.
Since it made its debut in 2006, BBN has helped to enhance the quality of TV production in the country. It has also facilitated technological transfer betweenNigerian and South African production firms, who managed the inaugural show. Aside from these technical firms, there were many others whose business survival is tied to the success of the show. These groups range from the editorial crew, makeup artists, costume designers, among others, who all earn middle class livings and are instrumental to the growth of the economy.
One unique feature of BBN is the creative deployment of drama to showcase the versatility of youth talent. Through the platform, the housemates, all locked up in a remote house, creatively dramatize their various talent to a global audience. Since its launch, the show developed something of a cult following due to its perceived rich entertainment value. However, beyond this dramatic value is the potential for youth to become business savvy.
For some of the housemates, the BBN was beyond entertainment; it was a means to an end. It served as a springboard to a prolific career in entertainment as they explored the business opportunities created by the show. A couple of the housemates, after the show, became celebrity entrepreneurs, representing a movement of people shaping Nigeria’s entertainment world. The BBN housemates, through the clout garnered from the popularity of the show, have ventured into various pursuits. While some have floated their private businesses, thereby withdrawing from public glare, a few others have continued to bask in the euphoria of stardom in the industry.
Thus, BBN has become more of a development project that helps aspiring youth easily find the right footing in their chosen careers through the exposure the show provides. In addition to the growth of SMEs facilitated by BBN and other reality shows in Nigeria, a new middle class is evolving with reality TV shows. It has further raised the need for a new growth model, stretching youth’s creative and entrepreneurial skills in a bid to boost national productivity and socio-economic growth.
One of the most prominent faces in Nigeria’s entertainment industry is Ebuka Obi Uchendu, a lawyer and celebrity media personality of note. Ebuka’s eighth place finish out of the 14 housemates in the 2006 BBN standing did not diminish his enormous talent. Today, the reality TV star is one of the visibly successful BBN housemates. He has since floated his private business, employing staff who would have been caught in the web of the growing unemployment. He also has to his credit juicy endorsement deals with various blue-chip brands in the telecoms and breweries sectors. He has played host to several youth-focused talk shows, such as Rubbin’ Minds, The Spot, among others. Ebuka has since grown to become a model to several youth in the industry, a feat which earned him the opportunity of hosting the first ever presidential debate focused on youth issues, during the run up to 2011 general elections in Nigeria.
Over the years, the show has exhibited huge potentials as a promoter of entrepreneurship in Nigeria and as a pathway out of the present economic doldrums in the country. Interestingly, it is making its return at a time when reality TV shows have become well-established and an enterprise of a sort. The show is expected to demonstrate how reality TV platforms can positively optimize the business potentials of the youth.
On his part, Katung Aduwak, winner of BBN in 2006, is definitely one of those influencing the industry behind the scenes. He consolidated on his win by proceeding to the United States to hone his skills in film production and direction. Upon his return from the Digital Film Academy, New York, where he obtained a degree in film direction, he has remained active in the industry, nurturing musical talent. He worked on several projects such as directing a series of musical videos for Chocolate City, Style Plus, Gabriel Afolayan, among others.
Other versatile housemates that have made great strides in the industry include Gideon Okeke, Uti Nwachukwu,Tayo Faniran, among others. After their victories, they have continued to shine in their chosen lines of business.
For instance, Gideon, an actor in the famed TV series, Tinsel, who has gone into other exploits such as TV Show hosting. Uti, aside bringing glamour to Nollywood, since his foray into acting, has hosted several events and TV shows, among them, Jara which he co-hosts with Helen Paul. Tayo Faniran, who became the brand ambassador to PayPorte, the headline sponsor of the BBN, over a year ago, has just got his license renewed by the foremost e-commerce company. The aforementioned stars are strong brands in the entertainment industry with huge and increasing followership.
Through the popularity that accrued from involvement in reality shows, these stars have been able to establish successful private businesses that have provided employment opportunities for several youth. They have also been contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, aid youth development, and ultimately providing mentorship to the youth.
Aside from the housemates, the other “unseen hands” as it were have also recorded tremendous successes after their interaction with the maiden edition of the show. An example would be Don Jazzy, the chief executive officer of Mavin records, one of the country’s biggest music labels. Many may not know this but the famed music producer was responsible for the 2006 BBN theme music. Another interesting revelation would be the in-house stylists of the show; Omoyemi Akerele and Bola Balogun. Their co-owned a fashion styling and image consulting business was responsible for the housemates and presenters’ wardrobes for the duration of the show.
Today, Omoyemi Akerele is the artistic director of Style House Files, the company who stages the hugely successful Lagos Fashion and Design Week while Bola Balogun is the founder of Glam Brand Networks, a brand strategy and public relation agency specializing in luxury and niche brands within the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry. Then there is Michelle Dede, the multilingual TV host and actor, who hosted the show alongside Olisa Adibua, one of Nigeria’s most respected radio personalities. Big Brother Nigeria happened to be Michelle’s first TV hosting gig and now, Michelle has grown to be a TV personality repute, gracing our television screens on several shows including Moments, a syndicated talk show on EbonyLife on DStv channel 165.
Therefore, if you look forward to having a swell time with ‘Biggy’, you are hardly alone. This is because for more than 74 days, viewers from within and outside Nigeria will be served with spicier and peerless entertainment.

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