As part of its commitment to supporting local talents and creatives, the popular streaming service, Showmax, recently announced that it has teamed up with Livespot360 for the production of The Real Housewives of Lagos (RHOLagos), West Africa’s first edition of the renowned reality show format, The Real Housewives.
In order to give the show a distinct Nigerian feel (made in Lagos by Lagosians), partnering with a reputable creative solutions firm like Livespot360 only made sense. On his part, the Chief Creative Director of Livespot360, Darey Art-Alade, the mastermind behind many of Nigeria’s biggest concerts and festivals in the last decade, including the highly acclaimed The Falz Experience; and Cardi B’s memorable showpiece at Livespot X Festival in Lagos and Accra, describes producing RHOLagos as an exciting opportunity to showcase Nigerian talent and diversify the entertainment properties that are produced in the country.
“Livespot was actually contracted by Showmax and Multichoice to produce this show. It’s a brilliant opportunity to have been given this chance to tell stories with this media property,” he tells Culture Custodian.
That being said, one can only imagine the amount of planning, grueling effort, and sleepless nights that must have gone into producing a reality show of this magnitude — all of which Darey can attest to.
Behind The Scenes of the Real Housewives of Lagos
So how does one go about bagging a multimillion naira deal and producing a highly anticipated version of a renowned reality show format? Well, it all begins with a little something called franchising. While clarifying that Livespot360 does not, in fact, own the rights to the Real Housewives Lagos (RHOL) franchise, Darey gives a breakdown of the ins and outs of the franchising process, which is usually a combination of an organization’s ability to show intrinsic knowledge of an industry and market, proof of expertise based on other shows that have been developed, the ability to pay the franchise fee and fund the production of the show and the ability to execute within the show’s unique format presented by the franchiser. “It’s quite a bit of work to get popular formats into emerging markets but the above pretty much demystifies it,” he explains.
With that part of the deal safely out of the way, the Livespot360 team quickly began working on the show. “There was a lot of room for ideas and suggestions to ensure that we were able to deliver the glam, drama, and luxury of the franchise, but also ensure that our Naija culture was infused into the locations, the language, the stories, etc,” Darey says, talking us through the creative process for the show. But perhaps the most intriguing, or at least the most talked-about aspect of the show is the cast. Since unveiling the latest Housewives and releasing the official trailer for the show, reality TV lovers across the continent have taken to social media in droves, wasting no time in creating memes and expressing their varying views about the participants, with many wondering why these particular ladies were chosen. Describing the rigorous process of handpicking the cast, Darey reveals that each woman had to meet certain criteria.
“We didn’t just want women that are glamorous, we wanted women who are also industrious and have built a solid brand for themselves. Boss women who hold their own.”
He adds that each woman also had to have an on/off-screen personality and be able to articulate their unique stories clearly to the audience. “There’s a lot of dynamism that comes with the show because you’re working with people’s real, actual lives, their celebrations, their challenges, their temperaments,” he remarks. “These women needed to embody all these dynamics.”
Lights, camera, fashion!
Of course, like any creative endeavor worth its salt, producing a reality show of this magnitude must come with its own fair share of unique wahala and unexpected challenges. “Producing RHOL in Lagos was not easy at all,” Darey says.
From Lagos traffic to delayed call times and approvals on locations, the cultural and environmental factors that have to be dealt with during production are not for the faint of heart. “Also, you’re dealing with real people with real schedules and moods. So, it was a huge task to ensure that both cast and crew are able to work together to make this happen with the least resistance possible,” he explains, painting a vivid picture of just how much work goes into a project like this.
“It’s literally a movie to produce these sorts of shows!”
While many of us can’t wait to see the glitz and the drama come alive on our screens, for Darey and his team, working on RHOLagos is not just about showcasing the Housewives’ glamorous lives. It’s about showcasing their humanness too, a narrative they kept in mind whilst producing the show. “Celebrities are dynamic personalities with different aspects of their life which they need to navigate on a daily basis, but we mostly get to see the highlights of their lives. This show humanizes them, and shows that they experience the same type of frustrations, emotions, challenges, that a not-so-famous person does.”
In light of all the recent excitement surrounding the recent premiere of Young, Famous & African, and the mammoth success of shows like Big Brother Naija, RHOL comes to Nigeria right as it has become increasingly clear that there is a growing appreciation for reality television in Nigeria. No stranger to reality programs himself (having featured on Project Fame and The Voice Nigeria, to mention but a few), Darey explains why reality television has Nigerians in such a chokehold. “I think that people want to see relatable content,” he states. “The GenZ and Millennial generations are over the narratives of perfect lives and perfect romance-laced stories. They want to see the real lives of these individuals when the curtains are closed. What do they eat? Where do they frequent? Who are their friends? Do they get upset, lonely, scared? They want shows that answer these questions.”
From all indications, The Real Housewives of Lagos is more than just entertainment — viewers will get to see real women from different backgrounds, real-life stories, real drama, real luxury, and real pain and laughter. Speaking on what makes the Lagos version unique and worth the watch, Darey notes that Nigerians simply want a show that is relatable, satisfies their curiosity, and provides an entertaining escape.
“This is what Real Housewives of Lagos does,” he says. “It takes you behind the scenes of some of your favorite celebrities and into their lives so deeply that you feel a strong connection!”
Catch The Real Housewives of Lagos on Showmax from 8 April, with new episodes coming weekly.