Deola Art Alade: Boss Lady of Show Business

Deola Art Alade: Boss Lady of Show Business

Deola Art Alade, wife of the prominent Nigerian musician, media personality and creative, Darey Art Alade is quite the quiet and strategic achiever, choosing to pull the strings behind the scenes. But her impact and contribution to the entertainment industry is in no way  some mere rustling. Vanessa Obioha profiles her, highlighting her various contributions and impact on the entertainment industry

You’re trying to interview me,” said Deola Art Alade gently but with a knowing smile.

It’s widely known that she prefers to stay behind the scenes, rarely granting interviews. However, on this bright day in December 2023, she could not remain in the shadows. Accompanying her husband on a tour of their facility, the Livespot Entertarium along the Lekki-Epe axis, Art Alade stepped into the spotlight, revealing a glimpse of her strategic influence within the entertainment industry.

It was the first day of Entertainment Week Lagos (EWL), a prominent gathering of the entertainment industry across Africa conceptualised by Deola Art Alade in 2022. An air of excitement and anticipation enveloped the venue. Security guards directed people to the car parks, ushers stationed at the entrance ensured that each attendee was duly registered, while the crew performed last-minute checks.

In just two weeks, Art Alade and her team transformed the Entertarium  into a creative haven, resembling a maze, where each turn unveiled a carefully curated creative discovery, perfectly embodying the theme of EWL’s second edition, ‘The Next Wave.’

Starting with the X Club/Showcase room, which served as a daytime showcase for creatives seeking breakthroughs, the setting was lounge-like. Complete with a stage, quality speakers, and soundproof walls, the view was astonishing;  at night it was transformed into Club X, a 30-metre-long bar.

The space further led to the Gen Z Republik, equipped with Gen Z’s favourite perks, including games, Instagrammable photo booths, and, of course, free WiFi. Next was the Marketplace, which focused on providing a platform for young brands. About 40 brands were featured.  Situated close to it was the Creators Hub which offered live creativity from creatives, while the Podcast Room discussed the day’s activities to engage and attract audiences.The Film Hub, another creative space, provided a chance to explore African creativity through over 17 short films screened wirelessly to avoid distractions.

Surrounding the Film Hub were four spaces for various activities, including the Deal Room, where startups pitched to investors after undergoing training and mentoring from the team at  Livespo360, the creative agency of Art Alade.

The other three rooms hosted workshops, masterclasses, and panel sessions. The VIP Room, tastefully designed with a bar, accommodated speakers before they went on stage.

“Everything you see here is born out of love,” said Art Alade.

The transformation of the Entertarium is a testament to Art Alade’s keen eye for spaces, magically turning them into immersive experiences and unforgettable memories. Who could forget the ‘Love Like a Movie’ experience she and her husband brought to Nigerians a few years ago? These immersive events not only delivered breathtaking theatrics but also featured appearances from international stars like the famous American celebrity Kim Kardashian, as well as performances from music stars Kelly Rowland and Ciara.

As if that was not enough, when Access Bank launched the Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST), Art Alade and her team were the natural choice. Building on that success, they transitioned into organising the Livespot X Festival, which brought Nigerians electrifying concerts featuring Cardi B and the highly anticipated P-Square reunion concert. More recently, their productions have included the music competition, The Voice Nigeria, and the premiere of Prime Video’s ‘Gangs of Lagos.’ Other notable productions by the agency include the Headies and the Heineken UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour.

Beyond live event productions, Art Alade is also the producer of the popular reality TV series ‘The Real Housewives of Lagos’ on Showmax. The localised franchise has become one of the most-watched reality shows in recent times, with the first episode of its second season breaking the opening-day streaming records on Showmax in Nigeria.

“I will be producing a new series this year and I’m already looking for talents. I’m a star maker,” she divulged.

With these significant contributions, Art Alade joins the pantheon of Nigerian creatives like

Kenny ‘Keke’ Ogungbe and Dayo ‘D1’ Adeneye of the Kennis Music fame, Obi Asika, the late Chris Jeyibo, Alibaba Akpobome, Ayeni Adekunle, Ayo Animashaun, Eddie Lawani, and many others who have dedicated their lives to propelling the entertainment industry onto the global stage, believing in and showcasing its immense potential.

By all metrics, the entertainment industry is currently in its prime. According to a PwC Entertainment and Media Outlook for 2022-2026, the industry has the potential to emerge as a significant export for Nigeria, with a projected annual consumer growth rate of 8.8%. Forecasts from other sources also suggest promising financial outcomes, with the industry expected to sustain a total revenue growth rate of 14.75% until 2027.

Art Alade and her team are diligently working to turn this forecast into reality by investing in EWL. But why invest in such a conference?

“I’m a ‘core’ creative. People don’t know, they think I’m a core businesswoman. I studied Fine Arts at university. And that’s an industry that is barely getting support. But there are a lot of talented people in this industry. There’s nothing we do that does not involve the arts and we all benefit from it. I say to my colleagues, ‘What are we giving back?’”

For Art Alade, whose philanthropy has benefited many within the industry, participating in EWL is about aiding the next wave of creatives in finding their footing in the highly competitive entertainment industry.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur. When I wanted to start, I needed $5,000 and I knew how tough it was. That’s why the deal room is my baby. We want to help young people raise money for their businesses.”

These young people, she said, are the future of the industry.

Art Alade further disclosed that the overarching objective of EWL is empowerment, as part of a comprehensive five-year plan.

“We need to have trained a certain number of people within five years.”

With eyes on training, Art Alade has mentored numerous individuals who have subsequently secured positions at prestigious companies both locally and internationally.

“I have four PAs who worked with me in the past that are now CEOs of prominent companies. When I see them, I feel I’m doing something impactful.”

While she may operate as a quiet and strategic influencer, her impact on the industry resonates loudly and is far from being a whisper.

Art Alade embraces a simple lifestyle, eschewing extravagant spending on wigs or fancy clothes. On this particular day, she opted for a casual yet stylish look, donning blue ripped boot-cut jeans paired with a white crop top from Zara. Her short, fashionably styled hair complemented her outfit, reflecting her mood-driven approach to fashion.

“I feel like Gen Z today,” she said jokingly.

She is also guided by certain principles, placing a higher value on sincerity and integrity over monetary gain.

“Money does not move me,” she said. “I have walked away from some of the biggest deals that nobody would want to move away from. Sincerity and integrity are very key to me. It has become a culture for us. And it reflects in our hiring process. You may be the most brilliant but if you don’t have these qualities, you can’t work for us.”

These qualities are what prompted some of her former employees to return to work with her.

“I don’t have many friends but I’m big on relationships. And my relationships are not based on material things. It’s not about what they wear but the sincerity of their heart.”

Hailing from Ekiti State, renowned for its intellectual prowess, excellence is ingrained in Art Alade’s DNA.

“Everything I do, I try to do it well and excel. That’s why I take my time. I don’t rush or try to keep up with the Joneses. I’m a moving train.”

Her mantra is never to make excuses.

“People should always try to make something out of every situation.”

As the EWL prepares for its third edition later this year, Art Alade is determined to transform it into more than just a breeding ground for ideas that will propel the industry to global dominance. She envisions it as a platform where the younger generation can enhance their skills, cultivate an achiever’s mindset, and forge new connections within a community of influencers.

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