Paramount Africa: Elevating African Creativity on International Stages

By Monde Twala, Senior Vice President, General Manager, and Lead, BET International

Decades ago, Paramount Africa embarked on a transformative journey, aimed at reshaping the incredibly rich African entertainment culture and showcasing it on the international stage, while staying true to its authentic roots.

Our journey began with mere sketches and plans on the drawing board as we envisioned how to project the true essence of invigorating African culture and art to the world. We gradually translated this vision into reality, providing an emancipating platform where the world could immerse itself in the vibrant African spirit. As we expanded our horizons, we uncovered raw, untapped talents—bold, vibrant, and undeniably African.

Our very first treasure was 2Face Idibia, a voice characterized by its rich and unapologetically African tone and depth. Utilizing our first-ever international music platform, MTV Base, “African Queen” came to life, propelling Idibia into the international music scene. Remarkably, a talent we discovered in the heart of Nigeria went on to win the first-ever MTV EMA Best African Act.

The success of Idibia’s music opened our minds to even greater possibilities. We envisioned fueling the international appeal of our talents through larger platforms. This led us to brainstorm initiatives and create platforms that catapulted numerous bright stars to international stardom.

One such platform is the MTV VJ Search—an expressive platform for individuals who thrive as hosts. Since 2012, this platform has nurtured and launched several stars to stardom, including Cynthia Okpala, Ehizojie ‘Ehiz’ Okoeguale, Stephanie Coker, Ada ‘Folu Storms’ Ogunkeye, and Ntandose Mosibi

The birth of the Culture Squad was yet another initiative dedicated to bringing together a team of brilliant minds and trendsetters who push the culture forward across Paramount Africa’s youth brands—MTV, MTV Base, and BET Africa. Ilooise, aka ILO, and Susan Pwajok are prime examples of stars who continue to find their expression on this platform. Today, Ilooise has become a leading TV presenter and on-air personality since his breakthrough in 2016. More recently, we introduced a new variation—the BET VJ Search, actively searching for talents to incorporate, a testament to our unwavering commitment to nurturing African talents.

In line with our commitment to talent development,  through the MTV Staying Alive Foundation,  the Talent Accelerator Program — a platform created to invest in young, emerging female creatives. The initiative saw the selection of 11 outstanding young women to work across different departments through the filming of MTV Shuga season 5. We didn’t stop there; the popular MTV Shuga Down South recently provided opportunities for 18 aspiring graduate interns interested in forging a career in the entertainment world. With talents’ welfare in mind, Paramount also partnered with the African Creative Market to empower African creatives in establishing sustainable structures for international economic prosperity.

The BET channel has played a pivotal role in championing black excellence and culture. It has introduced a wide array of telenovelas, reality shows, and dramas to its audience. From South African sensation, Thando Thabete’s #Unstoppable Thabooty reality TV show, celebrated within the South African community, to the recent remarkable success of “Isono,” a South African telenovela featured on BET France, where it soared to become the channel’s top-rated program. The triumph of “Isono” has ignited our determination to further promote African content. Today, we are proudly embarking on the journey to unveil “Redemption,” a South African telenovela set to captivate audiences on the same channel.

Our impact in the entertainment landscape underscores our dedication to excellence, empowerment, and innovation. As we raise our glasses to celebrate our commendable progress, we acknowledge that we are just getting started. Our vision transcends mere fulfillment; it has become a culture we breathe and live. We are committed to ushering in a future where African entertainment is equally promoted and respected on the international stage. We encourage talents to dare to dream, knowing that Paramount is dedicated to transforming those dreams into reality.