Project Fame, also known as Project Fame West Africa or MTN Project Fame West Africa (for sponsorship purposes), is a music talent TV reality show filmed in Lagos, Nigeria and aired in the West Africa. It is a regional version of Star Academy reality series that was developed and is licensed worldwide by Endemol. The show used to feature contestants from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, but Liberia and Sierra Leone have been dropped since the2014 Ebola Outbreak. The show is broadcast by networks in these four countries and across the African continent.
Run by Ultima production, Project Fame’s inaugural season began in 2008. The production format consists of gala evenings held each Sunday night in prime time and hosted by Joseph Benjamin and Adaora Oleh. In season 7, Adaora was replaced with Bolanle Olukanni. Additionally, there’s a weekly recap show and the Eviction night on Saturday night.
The jury is formed by three judges; Praiz, Bibie Brew and Tee-Y Mix, and Faculty members of the Academy which include: Joke Silva, Lovette Otegbola, Dupe Ige and Ben Ogbeiwi.
As it is with everything good, the end of every Project Fame season leaves one with mixed feelings.
The feeling of joy for having watched talented individuals blossom into superstars, and then that not-so-good feeling because you have to wait for at least 10 months to get into the groove that the show brings.
However, the succor we have is the fact that we can still wait for another season and this hope has to be kept alive again as we eagerly await the coming of MTN Project Fame West Africa season 10.
Now, if for some very unusual reason anyone decides to question the necessity of the show’s continuity, these 10 points will convince you otherwise.
It is what it is; the sheer entertainment Project Fame provides every season is unrivaled. It is beautiful to have something to rush home to every night, a reason to always look forward to the weekend. Life can be tough, news headlines can be full of sober stories, but you can always count on Project Fame to add some colour to an otherwise gloomy day.
Testimonials of fans having light bulb moments in various aspects of life (not restricted to music) when watching academy sessions continue to troop in every season.
The prestigious Project Fame academy not only schools the contestants in music, it also ensures that the contestants are grounded in other spheres of life.
Hence, guests are invited from time to time to lecture the contestants on topics like employability skills, goal setting, work-life balance, character building, financial matters, among other things. Just by watching these episodes, the fans of the show also get educated.
Not many reality shows in West Africa can boast of 9 years continuity like Project Fame. The show which has held it down for nine good years is proof that it is possible to forge on despite all odds – majorly harsh economic condition.
The financial ripple-effect impact
It goes without saying that the participating contestants that go home with millions are financially empowered, but their families are also not left out.
The show is also an ‘employer of labour’ as it does not run itself. Numerous men and women earn a living by being a part of the production crew.
Project Fame listens
It is truly admirable how the producers of the show hold the viewers in high regard by giving them opportunities to make certain decisions and to also make changes to certain things they clamor for.
Two instances worthy of note was in Season 8 and Season 9. In Season 8, fans of the show in the diaspora clamored for an opportunity to vote as they could not partake in SMS voting.
Even though the season was already running to a close, an overseas voting portal was quickly created for them. Also, at the start of Season 9, contrary to uploading daily episodes on their Youtube channel, the producers started to upload these videos on the website.
This did not go down well with some of the fans; again, Project Fame danced to their tune and reverted to the usual Youtube uploads.
The producers also engage the fans through social media to decide what songs the contestants should perform or the one they would have them perform again. They tag it #Fansdecide polls.
New season, new spices
Notable welcome changes are made to every season. The producers raise the bar higher as they evolve every year. One of such is the voting platforms which is not restricted to the very affordable N50 SMS anymore (Google and website voting options now available).
A platform that makes dream come true
This simply explains itself; just ask any Project Fame alumni/alumnus.
Don’t you just love the fact that Project Fame is not a ‘winner takes all’ competition?
The winner and 3 runners-up go home with millions of naira, the least being N2 Million (3rd runner-up). It is only fair that you reward a contestant for working hard enough to make it to the final lap, whether or not they win eventually.
The 5th and 6th positions are also rewarded. Cool, right? Of course!
Post-season support to contestants
The producers do not say final goodbye to the contestants after the season ends, they follow up on their journey into the music industry and monitor them.
Finally, there has to be a Project Fame season 10 because it is the only reason at least one talented individual has not given up on their dreams of being heard.
Cheers in advance, to Project Fame West Africa Season 10.
Oguntamu ‘Penzaar’ Olufemi is a social/digital media expert. He’s the founder of Penzaarville Africa, a branding/consulting, digital assets management company.