The life of Nigerian influencer and convicted con artist Ramon Olorunwa Abbas is stranger than fiction. Little wonder that Nigerian media company EbonyLife Studios is making a movie about it. EbonyLife Studios, in partnership with Hollywood’s Will Packer Productions, has secured the adaptation rights to the Bloomberg article “The Fall of the Billionaire Gucci Master” by Evan Ratliff, based on Abbas’s life.
Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, garnered internet fame when he took to flaunting his ill-acquired wealth, earning a reputation for his obsession with Italian luxury fashion house Gucci. He was finally arrested in Dubai in June 2020, and after a protracted investigation and trial in a US court was found guilty of multiple charges of money laundering, totally about $24 million.
Ebony Life Studios CEO Mo Abudu revealed on Instagram that she pitched the story to Will Parker and James Lopez, shortly after the Bloomberg article broke the internet. They promptly came on board, and the duo jointly won the rights to the article after a keenly contested race. The project is now set up at Universal Pictures.
Neither of the outfits involved in this need any introduction. Abudu’s Ebony Life Studios is one of Nigeria’s biggest, and the brain behind some of Nollywood’s finest including Fifty, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Oloture, Chief Daddy, and Nigeria’s top-grossing The Wedding Party 1 & 2.
Among Willparker’s blockbusters are Girls Trip, Think Like a Man, Ride Along, and the Beyoncé-starred Obsessed.
Explaining why she chose the project, Abudu said it was necessary for a Nigerian storyteller to give insider perspective as well as ensure authenticity. Most importantly, it was important to prevent a possible generalization and stereotyping of the entire Nigerian citizenry. Drawing examples from the work of Martin Scorsese who portrayed “richly layered criminal characters from his heritage without ever creating the impression that all Italian-Americans are members of the mafia,” she emphasized that “All Nigerians are not scammers.”
The production is a timely one, and we are pleased it is in such experienced hands. We can’t wait to see the magic they’ll produce.