Mary Njoku, CEO of ROK Studios, alongside Nollywood stars Desmond Elliot, Bolanle Ninalowo, Chinedu Ikedieze and Efe Irele recently embarked on a tour of South Africa, Zambia, the UK, Lagos and Accra connecting with fans and Nollywood lovers across Africa and the diaspora.
In an exclusive interview with Nollywood Observer, Mary Njoku discusses Nollywood, content, fans and ROK studios.
Why did ROK decide to embark on this tour?
We embarked on this tour to connect with our fans across Africa and beyond. It has been such a wonderful and insightful experience so far, spending time with so many of our super fans in the UK and South Africa. It’s great to hear what they think about Nollywood, what they love about ROK and what they want more of. We are always speaking to our fans – face-to-face and via our social media platforms to see how we can improve.
The tour would be incomplete without a “homecoming” with people in my home – Lagos and of course in Accra. The fans inspire us to continue telling African stories.
There are a number of consistent faces on the ROK tour, how is ROK able to get such loyalty and commitment from its actors?
We all want the same thing – to keep the fans entertained and to do what we are passionate about. It is very important to work with people who are on the same page as you. What we do is for the people, to make them happy. ROK is a family – we are on tour as a family.
What determines the type of stories produced by ROK TV?
What type of stories do the people who consume the content enjoy the most
Our environment, experiences and interactions with people on a day-to-day basis
Powerful storytelling that reflects the many different aspects of African life
What has been the greatest discovery of the ROK team throughout the Rok Tour?
Seeing how much love we got from the people outside of Nigeria, especially in South Africa and Zambia. Nollywood is no longer a Nigerian phenomenon, it is for all of Africa and through this tour we have expanded our knowledge of people and places outside of Nigeria which can be developed into broader African stories.
How does ROK intend to give back to the next generation of Nollywood Directors, Producers and Actors that are aiming for a start in the industry?
This is the whole premise of ROK as a company. We love new faces. You can see that a lot of people have grown in the past few years through ROK. A great example, Efe Irele who is also on the tour with us, has really seen her career accelerate very quickly, and she has grown into such a versatile and well-sought out actress.
I am passionate about the younger generation and providing opportunities for them through acting, scriptwriting, etc. I was once in a position where I was in search of opportunity so anything I can do to lift others and create job opportunities, I will. Bringing new blood into Nollywood, whilst also collaborating with professional stars that have paved the way for the rest of us, is an important balance.
What steps must a Director take to get their project showcased on ROK? Must ROK be an executive producer on the project before it is showcased on the channel?
At least 85% of the content on ROK is produced by us, however we do also acquire content from other production companies to showcase on our platforms across Africa and the UK. Quality content, quality storytelling – this is critical to all of our acquisition decisions
Where do most viewers of the ROK channel come from and what does it tell the team about the type of content being produced?
As a TV channel, ROK reaches 13.5 million subscribers across DSTV and GOTV platforms in Africa alone. In the UK it reaches 12.5M viewers. We create diverse content from epic dramas to modern city romance stories, to make the movies relatable to viewers both home and abroad.
What message would you leave for someone that does not believe in Nollywood content but you would like to use ROK as a factor to convince them to begin this journey?
As long as we continue to produce meaningful and relatable stories, that are entertaining and speak for us Africans, we will continue to create new Nollywood converts on a regular basis.
What is the goal of ROK in the next 2- 5 years?
To produce more African content, for Africans by Africans. We would like to unite Africa by inviting talent from other countries – we want to learn about South African stories, about Zambian stories, about Africans who grew up in Europe, we want to share relatable content through our movies and series.
About ROK Studios
ROK Studios launched in 2013. ROK Studios is a leading African film and television studio and production house based in Lagos, Nigeria. They specialize in the creation of content in partnership with the industry’s foremost creative talent. Rok has developed, produced and financed film and TV series for distribution platforms globally. ROK owns one of the larger content libraries in Nigeria, with blockbuster films and series, as well as an Animation Studio called ROK Animations Studios.