Consistency is the key to success —Mary Njoku, CEO, ROK
Mary Njoku is the Chief Executive Officer of ROK. In this interview by NIYI OYEDEJI, she speaks about her expansion plans and experience so far.
Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I’m the Director General of ROK Group, which comprises ROK Studios and the ROK TV channels (ROK, ROK2, ROK3 showing on DStv and GOtv across Africa, and ROK on Sky, showing on Sky TV in the UK).
I am passionate about delivering quality African content across our platforms and also taking Nollywood to the global stage. I am also a wife to Jason Njoku and mum to three children.
How did you delve into the entertainment industry?
In 2004, I featured in my first Nollywood movie, and started to become a regular face on TV as my passion continued to grow. Apart from being an actress, I also became very passionate about behind the scenes work so I attended film school in order to get educated on every thing that had to do withproduction. This led me to my role as Chief Content Officer at IROKO Partners before eventually becoming CEO at ROK Studios.
What is the idea behind ROK?
The idea of ROK came about when I became Chief Content Officer at IROKO. It was important for the IROKOtv platform to begin creating its own content as licensing fees from other Nollywood producers was becoming quite expensive. Once we began creating content, we were able to provide jobs for young people, both on and off screen, but we wanted more. We wanted more people to see all the work we were doing, and this birthed ROK on Sky, then ROK, ROK2 and ROK3 on DStv and GOtv.
What was your initial start-up capital?
I am not able to disclose this figure unfortunately.
How many employees do you have currently?
ROK directly hires 48 people across Lagos and London and indirectly hires over 800 people across the independent production outfits annually.
When was your platform established?
ROK was established in 2013.
What are your expansion plans?
With the backing of CANAL+, we can expand into French-speaking Africa. We can also create higher budget films and different types of content that we have always wanted to explore, like animation.
What are the major challenges you have faced since you started?
The major challenges were getting the right people on the team, and also finding the right talent to feature in our films. They are the backbone of ROK, so once we found the right people, we were able to create great content for all our platforms.
Who do you look up to as a role model?
My husband, Jason. He has pushed me to limits I didn’t even know I could reach. He’s such a great partner.
What do you have to say about the entertainment industry in Nigeria?
It is a growing industry. We have improved so much over the past 10 to 20 years. A lot of people are beginning to see the importance of acquiring training/skills for their craft.
We are also getting to the point where we can compete on a global scale at award ceremonies and film festivals. We are more conscious of the type of content we release for consumption because Nigerians deserve good quality content.
Because of this, large companies like CANAL+ can invest/acquire companies like ROK, as a stepping stone to spreading the greatness that is Nigerian entertainment – they know that it has the potential to truly go global.
What are the challenges confronting the entertainment industry in Nigeria and what do you think is the way out?
There needs to be trust in order to gain investments in the industry from governments, banks, and so on. The entertainment industry can certainly improve Nigeria’s economy but we must be given the chance to prove ourselves. This is an industry that creates jobs for thousands of young Nigerians in different capacities.
What advice would you give to upcoming people in your path of business?
Consistency will get you to places that passion will not. It’s not enough to be passionate about something; you also need to be consistent as success does not come overnight. You also need to have integrity, be reliable when on set and be respectful of those around you.