Produced in collaboration with WhatsApp, the movie is a family documentary in which the NBA star discovers his physical and cultural birthplace, taking fans of the Greek-Nigerian NBA superstar on a thorough journey to his native Nigeria for the first time.
A Homecoming story ‘Ugo’ by Director Rick Famuyiwa will be available on YouTube and Prime Video in selected markets starting January 16th.
This is WhatsApp’s new feature-length documentary and its latest original content following the 2022 short film Naija Odyssey. Both projects clearly demonstrate the power of family ties, cultural discovery, and personal identity.
‘Ugo’ is named after Antetokounmpo’s real name in Nigeria and provides exclusive and unprecedented access to the journey of one of the most decorated basketball players of all time.
This intimate documentary tells the story of Antetokounmpo’s first visit to his homeland, accompanied by his mother, who immigrated to Greece from Nigeria 35 years ago. Together they delve deep into their family and Nigerian traditions and develop a deep bond as Antetokounmpo strengthens his connection to his culture.
Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “I grew up in Greece and my mother passed on the Nigerian culture to us, but I wasn’t lucky enough to experience it firsthand in my home country. Luckily, with WhatsApp, I was able to connect with my family and I was able to stay connected to my roots and create my own version of my heritage. The opportunity to return to my birthplace and start a new Nigerian family was one of the most rewarding experiences for me, I became even more proud of the many cultures that make me who I am.”
“I am proud to share this journey and hope that many people around the world will share this journey as well, and to show that we all have a different meaning of ‘home’, no matter how far away we are.”
Ugo shares a universal message of self-discovery, emphasizing that a unique blend of multicultural heritage defines individuality, no matter where you come from or how close your roots are.
The documentary is the latest chapter in WhatsApp’s film series “There’s No One Like Us” and also serves as a call to encourage the platform’s 2 billion users around the world to embrace their individual identities.
Because of its reach and influence, global news services promoted this documentary and credited it with supporting Antetokounmpo’s journey from a purely digital connection with his relatives to a physical and spiritual connection with his homeland.
Vivian Odior, Chief Brand Officer at WhatsApp and who is of Nigerian descent, said: “This is a powerful reminder that the search for identity and roots resonates around the world and fosters connections across boundaries.”
Rick Famuyiwa, the Nigerian-American director of the documentary whose previous directing credits include The Mandalorian and Dope, said: “First steps in your home country are something you will never forget. They change lives. I collaborated with WhatsApp to capture this moment for Giannis and tell a story that not only me, but many people around the world can relate to. It was an honor to share.”
Ugo is the latest in the partnership between WhatsApp and Antetokounmpo, since the partnership was first announced at his NBA All-Star game in February 2022. Ugo features leading global Nigerian creators, including entrepreneur and Homecoming founder Grace Ladoja; Stephen Tayo, photographer; and Yeni Kuti, the daughter of Fela Kuti.