Aug 27, 2019
By Tara Weiss
Alex Okosi on what it took to bring the music video culture to his home continent.
Our In the Office With ... series, gives Viacom executives the opportunity to reveal a little bit about who they are, how they lead, and what drives them in the day-to-day.
"More than ever, local content is very, very important. Africans want to see themselves and shows created for them. "
Perhaps nothing better exemplifies that than the hero’s welcome South African popstar Sho Madjozi received upon landing in her home country after winning the Best New International Act in June at the BET Awards in L.A. The singer, who was recently featured in a New York Times article, was praised for the win by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a session of Parliament.
As for Okosi, he left Nigeria at age 12 to join his brothers in the U.S., where they were in college. He attended four high schools before being awarded a scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy. From there, he won a basketball scholarship to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and a first job as trade marketing coordinator for Viacom in New York.
Okosi and I spoke recently in New York on one of his many trips from his home base in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Leadership style: My team will say that I'm very involved. There's nothing that I ask of them that I wouldn't be willing to do myself. I'm with them in the trenches, and we work hard together to achieve our goals.
The MTV Base connection to Lupita Nyong’o: We were introduced to Lupita through her cousin, Isis Nyong’o, who was one of our first hires. Lupita auditioned for our prosocial drama series, Shuga, which was her first real acting job.
On building a business in Africa: Being able to employ and empower so many young people is amazing. I feel that we've played a part in their growth. It's amazing to be able to see the impact that our work can have in a positive way.
The secret to a perfectly bald head: I go to the barber shop every three days.