WhatsApp forays into films with an NBA champ’s story


‘Naija Odyssey’ will premiere on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on September 21. Narrated by NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo and his mother, Veronica, it is loosely based on the Greek epic poem “The Odyssey”, depicting different moments in his life

he short film portrays the life of the pro-basketballer, who, according to WhatsApp, “tells his origin story of many origins as he reconciles his roots, birthplace and sense of belonging between cross-cultural worlds”

The Meta-owned social media messaging platform, WhatsApp, is all set to venture into the world of cinema and entertainment, with the premier of its original short film ‘Naija Odyssey’ on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on September 21.

This short, which is 12 minutes long features the cross-cultural story of NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was born in Greece to Nigerian parents. For the untutored, Antetokounmpo was named the 2021 NBA All-Star MVP and led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA Finals title that year.

The short film portrays the life of the pro-basketballer, who, according to WhatsApp, “tells his origin story of many origins as he reconciles his roots, birthplace and sense of belonging between cross-cultural worlds”.

This film will stream on September 21 on Prime Video, and will be released on its social media channels and YouTube as well, tweeted WhatsApp. Narrated by Antetokounmpo and his mother, Veronica, “Naija Odyssey” is also loosely based on the classic Greek epic poem “The Odyssey,” depicting different moments in his life.

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In the trailer, Antetokounmpo says in a voiceover: “In Greece, my teachers told stories of travelers battling the sea, fighting to find their way home — to find themselves. I was on that same journey.”

Directed by filmmakers, Nono Ayuso and Rodrigo Inad (2021 short film ‘Terra Cene’), it is edited by Mikkel E G Nielsen, who won the 2021 Oscar for film editing for Amazon Studios’ ‘Sound of Metal’.

However, WhatsApp first original content, ‘Naija Odyssey’, is also one way to promote its  platform, acquired by Meta (formerly Facebook) at US$19 billion. In fact, Antetokounmpo has recently signed an endorsement deal with the company, which is another first for the platform, reports Variety. The platform hopes to cash in on Antetokounmpo’s worldwide fame and communicate the message that WhatsApp can bring people together, said media reports.

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According to an official statement, ‘Naija Odyssey’ is a story that drives home that WhatsApp helps people to embrace their multifaceted lives. It is also pushing the message that while navigating identity, and even adversity, WhatsApp is there — enabling a person to embrace all sides of themselves by connecting you to those who matter most.

This positive messaging is also meant to counter the image of WhatsApp has enabled the spread of misinformation and fostered hate and is divisive. The false propaganda has also led to violence. WhatsApp has more than 2 billion monthly users.



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