Producing an award show is no easy task! All one need do is look at the frenzy behind the Oscars, BET, Grammys and Emmys to know the producers as well as the celebrities and fans of these events are on the edge as everyone prepares for the BIG day. The Nigeria Entertainment Awards [NEA], established only three years ago and held in New York City, each year, is one such event that is highly anticipated. The event which showcases the contributions of Nigerian Artists to the world, struggled, in its infancy, to gain footing. But, it appears experience and determination has paid off.
Only in its third year, the NEA is fast becoming one of the major African focused events to be reckoned with, within and outside Africa as it attracts the glitz and glamour of Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry, its celebrities and die-hard fans. Indeed the NEA 2007 event drew Nigeria/Africa’s Super stars such as Supermodel Oluchi Onweagba Orlandi, Miss World 2001 Agbani Darego and CNN correspondence Lola Ogunnaike.This year, as a sponsor of what we expect to be an even more exciting event, we thought we’d give you a Ladybrille exclusive sneak preview on what to expect directly from the source, the NEA President and CEO, Tope Esan.
LADYBRILLE.com: Tope, they say the third time is a charm. Do you think that will hold true for this year’s NEA 2008 Awards?
NEA: I believe so. Our preparation in the last nine months has been primarily to take the show to the next level. A new level that will surpass anything we have done in the past especially in the area of production.
LADYBRILLE.com: Give us a little teaser. What should we expect?
NEA: Expect a new crop of Nigerian talent. Some you’ve heard of and some just out the box. We look beyond just the big names to perform at the show. We focus on young talented Nigerians doing their thing.
LADYBRILLE.com: What is the purpose of the Nigeria Entertainment Awards?
NEA: The Nigeria Entertainment Awards was established to recognize and honor Nigerian entertainers regardless if they live in Nigeria or in the diaspora. If you look at the categories and nominees, current and previous editions, we honor all Nigerians, those living in the U.S.A, Europe or in Nigeria. The Award show is also more than just an entertainment vehicle, we also try to showcase Nigerian talents to other non-Nigerians. .
LADYBRILLE.com: Is the event exclusively for Nigerians? Can other African groups and non-Africans attend?
NEA: The Award show is for Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, meaning everyone is welcome. Based on tickets sales and inquiries we actually anticipate a sizeable number of non-Nigerians this year which is good for us.
LADYBRILLE.com: Why did you choose to produce such event in the USA and why NYC?
NEA: There are over 3 million Nigerians living in the U.S. today, many of them first and second generation Nigerians with strong family ties and connection to Nigeria. They love the music and enjoy the movies but unfortunately don’t get a chance to see their favorite entertainers up close like those that live in Nigeria do. And our research shows that of the Nigerians that travel back home at least once a year, one of the products they say they have to bring back when they travel is Nigerian music CD’s and Movies/VCD. So we know that there is a demand for a show like ours in America. And there is an under ground movement in the U.S. now, it comprises of young talented artists we also want to use our platform to recognize those artists.
We picked NYC as a venue for several reasons: 1) there is a high concentration of Nigerians in that North East corridor, 2) NYC is one of the main entry point into the U.S.A for most Nigerians [and], 3) NYC is the biggest entertianment stage in the world.
LADYBRILLE.com: What are some of the challenges that go into producing a show of this magnitude?
NEA: Artists and Entertainers’ schedules is by far the number one challenge that we face. Our event is right around the beginning of the summer period and that is a busy period for many entertainers. We toiled with the idea of moving the date to an off season period but the reality is that entertainers always have busy schedules regardless of period of year whether they are between recording and touring for musicians and filming for actors and actressess.
We also have challenges from corporate sponsors, some either ignore our request or just don’t do enough. And many of these businessess have benefited and continue to benefit from our communities. We are learning not to depend totally on corporate sponsors, because they may not come through. But the show must go on, we’ve been very fortunate to have some key benefactors who have supported the show in the last three years.
LADYBRILLE.com: What’s the demographic you aim for?
NEA: We don’t particularly aim for a specific demographic. I truly believe that the artists on the line up draws the crowd to the show and looking at our line up this year, we expect to attract the non-conventional demographics to the show this year.
LADYBRILLE.com: Most people that attended NEA last year said it was great but they were not too happy the show started quite late. What are the biggest changes in the show this year and is starting on time one of them?
NEA: The show started late, last year, due to last minute personnel changes. We corrected that and we expect to start on time this year. People should remember that the lateness thing wasn’t an issue in our first year, so I can tell you that last year was an isolated incident.
LADYBRILLE.com: Last year, NEA did a fabulous job of attracting names that are known to the world like Supermodel Oluchi, Miss World 2001 Agbani Darego and CNN correspondent Lola Ogunnaike. Should we expect to see similar famous faces at this year’s NEA?
NEA: Yes. We hope to draw some more familiar faces to the show this year and some you may not have heard of now but will soon.
LADYBRILLE.com: Who are the nominees?
NEA: This year’s nominees includes P-Square and Asa for Album of the year; Olu Maintain, Timaya and 9ice for Hottest Single of the Year for Yahooze, Timaya and Gongo Aso respectively; Kate Henshaw and Mercy Johnson for Best Actress;Eldee for Best International Album; B Eazy of Amplifyd Crew for ‘I can’t shout’ and the list goes on. Check out the website for the entire list at http://www.nigeriaentawards.com.
LADYBRILLE.com: What names should we expect to perform at this year’s event?
NEA: We have Amplifyd Crew, Eldee, Ndu, Kecha, Apexx and a host of others. We have a group of talented artists performing this year, I will have to say this will be the best line up we’ve had in our three years of existence
LADYBRILLE.com: For those who might not be too familiar with Nigerian celebrities except some of the few names we’ve talked about in fashion and media, who are the names with cross-over appeal they should watch for
NEA: The interesting thing about the Award show is, we really never know who’s going to be attending till they do. But, I can tell you to expect some very noticeable faces in the industry. I guess that’s my way of not mentioning names because a lot of these stars try to keep a low profile and we like to respect that and not use them to market the show.
LADYBRILLE.com: Where can people purchase tickets for the event?
NEA: People can call 678-799-4576 or 212-279-4200. Or buy tickets online: http://nea.eventbrite.com.
LADYBRILLE.com: We will be there and look forward to seeing you and your team soon. Congrats in advance to what we hope is an amazing show!
NEA:Thanks for the support, we look for folks like you and the company you represent to really carry us and show along. We thank all our sponsors and supporters, they have really kept this show going. I will also want to commend the work of the entire NEA staff, they have all done a great job in putting the show together. See you on June 21st in NYC.
Alright brilliant ones. You heard the NEA President Tope Esan. Get excited! Come out, look ABSOLUTELY AND DELICIOUSLY GORGEOUS [Ladybrille Fashion Police will be on duty [BIG SMILE] ] and support Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2008! To all of our NY fans, please feel free to approach us and introduce yourself. We’d love to finally meet you in person. See you at NEA 2008!
NEA 2007 from our friends at Shout Afrika