Ayo Shonaiya

By - - [ Celebrity Profile ]

Ayo Shonaiya is a Film Producer and Lawyer. He was also a music talent agent who has managed many of Nigeria's top artists. The list include Fuji music star Wasiu Ayinde Marshall (K1 De Ultimate), pop star D'banj, music producer Don Jazzy and rapper Eldee the Don. He has also represented former beauty queen and rapper Muna and global music star Akon. He is the founder of entertainment and media management company The RMG Company in the UK and Nigeria

Early life and Education

Although Shonaiya was born in London, United Kingdom, he grew up and was educated in Lagos Nigeria throughout his formative years. He studied Film and Television in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Law in England at the University of Westminster. He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian Law School in Lagos.

Professional career

Film

While studying Film, Television and Video Production at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, he worked for free at a local TV station to gain experience in producing for television and within months was producing music and adventure segments for a program broadcast on the local Sunshine Cable Network. He was advised while in college to pursue, after graduation, a career in screenwriting for film or documentary filmmaking.

After a brief period in Los Angeles California after college, he returned to London in 1992 to make films for a living, but instead he enrolled at the University of Westminster Law School in 1993 to train as a lawyer. In his final year of Law School, he wrote, produced, directed and acted in his first feature film More Blessing about a dubious Nigerian Pastor in London. In 1997 Shonaiya chose to concentrate on a film career and in that year he made and starred in the film King of my Country, playing a Nigerian who travelled to London to work menial jobs but soon turned to fraud. The film was the inspiration for the song King of my Country by Nigerian artiste Sound Sultan, which was later remixed featuring Wyclef Jean.

In 1999, he wrote, directed and starred in his third feature film Spin. The film shoot was halted after 3 weeks when the original lead actress couldn't continue due to illness. There was a break of another 6 weeks before a replacement lead actress was found. British/Nigerian actress Caroline Chikezie was cast in her first starring role in Spin, which also featured Chebe Azih, Deborah Asante and Femi Houghton with the soundtrack by British/Nigerian soul singer Ola Onabule. Spin was the first film by a Nigerian to be premiered in a cinema in the West End of London at the inaugural BFM International Film Festival in 1999. Spin was nominated for Best New Director at the 2001 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and also for the MICA Prize at the FESPACO in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso in the same year.

In 2005, Ayo made his fourth feature film in London, writing and directing the film Good Evening, which was produced by Nollywood star Jim Iyke

Television

After coming off a world tour with Fuji musician Kwam 1, Ayo Shonaiya was invited by his friend Alistair Soyode to help set up and produce original programs for a new television venture, the first black owned TV station in the UK called Bright Entertainment Network (BEN Television). He signed a 2-year contract to produce programs for the station's 24-hour schedule and also as Programs Director to seek and acquire programs from other sources for broadcast. In the 2 years (2003–2005) his company R70 World was responsible for 70% of the station's activity including programs, spin off events and media.

In 2003, he created, produced and directed a music program called Intro  with his friend Abass Tijani (DJ Abass) as the presenter. Intro was responsible for creating spin-offs like the annual concert series the Big Nigerian Independence Intro Jam and the Intro Hollywood Special  TV feature filmed in Los Angeles annually over the Grammy weekend. Another of his TV programs, the Black Variety Show was first broadcast on BEN TV in August 2003, a live call-in show with 2 presenters (Ronke Apampa and Maria Soyinka). The show was tagged to be about "nothing, something, anything and everything". In all, Ayo Shonaiya created and produced 9 programs for BEN TV in 2 years, including In Perspective, Pots & Pans, Out & About and Soul Sista with Dakore Egbuson.

In 2010, Ayo Shonaiya created another TV series called United States of Nigeria, featuring exclusive interviews and features about Nigerians in America. The show is presented by Seun Maduka.

Music

In 1999, while shooting a documentary about K1 De Ultimate and also working as his legal consultant, Ayo Shonaiya was invited by the musician to be part of his team full-time. He agreed and signed a contract to become K1 De Ultimate's International Manager and his first job was to promote a Christmas "comeback" concert in London in December of that year. From there he was tasked to co-promote a full UK Tour with Biyi Adepegba of Joyful Noise and subsequently a tour of the United States (and Canada) with a 17 piece band the following year. As International Manager, he would eventually tour the world with Kwam 1 and full band 3 times in almost 4 years, recording 5 albums in that period.

In the year 2001, Ayo Shonaiya came across the trio of Eldee, Freestyle and Kaboom, young Nigerian rappers in a group called the Trybesmen. Although he was still contracted to Kwam 1, he took a liking to the Trybesmen and started managing them informally and supporting their causes. He once said in an interview "The Trybesmen and Da Trybe were like my children, I was using my manager's percentage money from Wasiu to fund their videos". The Trybesmen videos for Plenty Nonsense and Oya (by Da Trybe) were directed by him. Ayo Shonaiya would subsequently work with and/or manage the careers of the Trybesmen (and members of the Da Trybe such as Dr SID, Sasha and 2Shotz  over a period of 3 years. Ayo and Trybe leader Eldee the Don later reunited in Atlanta US as the latter produced his solo album Return of the King.

RMG Film Partners

In 2013, Ayo Shonaiya founded a film investment and production company RMG Film Partners under his parent company R70 Media Group.

Acting

Although Ayo had acted in his earlier films in the 90s, In 2014, while negotiating the deal between artistes D'banj and Akon for a music and video collaboration,Ayo Shonaiya was asked by Akon to play the part of the jealous boyfriend in the music video for the song "Feeling The Nigga",marking his return to the screen as an actor after 15 years

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