Alex Okosi is known for his unwavering passion to promote African music and entertainment. As the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Viacom International Media Network Africa and BET International, he is ensuring that the spotlight is still on Africa. He chats with The Interview on the upcoming BET Awards on June 24 where Nigerian artistes Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi and Teni The Entertainer are nominated…
The BET is almost here. How do you feel?
I feel incredibly excited. The awards this year will provide an amazing platform to highlight the best International African talent that we have in the world.
I think what is really great is that our music has really travelled and our artistes are travelling. They are delivering good music that the world wants to hear, their notoriety is rising.
The BET Awards provide that, it is really a viable platform for them at least to be recognised globally. Just being nominated is tremendous.
Last year, when I took over a number of BET roles, I was able to present the Best International Act on the live broadcast.
It’s amazing because everyone in the US get to know our talents. I was excited when Davido won but it is not because I’m from Nigeria that he won but because his music is amazing and he is an incredible talent.
He has the ability to grow across the globe where platforms like BET help and boost his career.
We are in a position to elevate Afrobeats right now, particularly music coming from Nigeria is everywhere
Nigerians have been nominated more than six times. What is the major impact of the award on the artistes?
BET is a brand that benefits from being able to celebrate and elevate our people from anywhere in the world and I think that being able to have this as part of the awards show is tremendous part.
It shows that we are in touch with what our global audiences want. We are in a position to elevate Afrobeats right now, particularly music coming from Nigeria is everywhere.
If you are in the US, Germany, you will understand that our music is in the mainstream. These are really exciting times.
How much attention do you pay to gender when selecting nominees?
I think first and foremost, it is important to note that women are doing incredible work in this space. As you know, Europe Music Awards is part of MTV and Tiwa Savage won that award for African Act.
We have to make sure that we are casting that wide, not to focus on gender as much but just to make sure that we consider every single gender, male or female and then let the fans speak.
The thing is that female musicians will always rise and that shows they are doing incredible work and for us diversity in music shows the power of music, that anyone can make great music.
The best musicians come from both genders.
I think that now we don’t need the collaboration as such. We need platforms like this where people can look at their talents
Do you think Nigerian artistes need collaborations with international acts to gain global recognition?
In the beginning it was a strategy that worked. When we launched the MTV Africa Awards, we created a lot of collaboration to introduce our artistes into the international market.
And it worked then because we discovered great talents in Africa. I think that now we don’t need that much. I think every kid in London irrespective of race has heard our music.
In the US, Davido is topping the charts. I think he was number 14 the last time I checked. In the market, we are 300 million people, and for a young African to break into that market is something we should all be proud of.
I think that now we don’t need the collaboration as such. We need platforms like this where people can look at their talents.
You can see now Burna Boy is playing in Coachella. This is huge. They are not getting invited to fill the quota but because of the music and experience they offer is what audiences want to see.