Today WhatsApp and Giannis Antetokounmpo release Ugo, an original documentary that takes fans of the Greek-Nigerian NBA superstar along on the profound journey to his homeland of Nigeria for the first time.
Ugo: A Homecoming Story, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, is available to view on YouTube and in select markets on Prime Video starting today, January 16. It is WhatsApp’s new feature-length documentary, and its latest original content feature following the 2022 short film Naija Odyssey. Both projects vividly portray the power of familial connection, cultural discovery, and personal identity.
Ugo, titled after Antetokounmpo’s Nigerian birth name, offers exclusive and unparalleled access into the journey of one of the world’s most decorated basketball players of all time. This intimate fly-on-the-wall documentary chronicles Antetokounmpo’s inaugural visit to his homeland, accompanied by his mother, who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago. Together, they delve into their family’s heritage and Nigerian traditions, fostering a profound bond as Antetokounmpo strengthens his connection to his culture.
Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “Growing up in Greece, my Nigerian culture was something my mother made sure we carried with us, but I was never lucky enough to have a direct experience in my homeland. Thankfully WhatsApp helped me stay connected to my family and roots, allowing me to create my own unique version of heritage. To be able to travel back to where she was born, and build a new Nigerian family, has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and only made me more proud of the many cultures that make me who I am. I’m proud to share this journey which I hope many around the world can connect to, showing us that we all have a different meaning of ‘home,’ even when we’re far away from it.”
Above all, Ugo delivers a universal message of self-discovery, emphasizing that regardless of one’s background or proximity to one’s roots, their unique blend of multicultural heritage defines their individuality. The documentary is the latest chapter of WhatsApp’s There’s No One Like Us film series that also serves as a call to inspire the platform’s 2 billion users around the world to embrace their individual identities. With its reach and impact, the global messaging service is proud to have powered the documentary and support Antetokounmpo in his journey from being solely digitally connected with relatives, to being physically and spiritually connected to his homeland.
Vivian Odior, Chief Brand Officer at WhatsApp and herself of Nigerian descent said: “Witnessing Giannis, with his mother no less, on his first journey, to connect with his homeland – Nigeria – in such a deeply personal manner evokes emotions shared by many of our billions of users on a daily basis. It’s a powerful reminder that the quest for identity and roots resonates universally, fostering a connection that transcends boundaries.”
Rick Famuyiwa, the Nigerian-American director of the documentary whose previous directing credits include The Mandalorian and Dope, said: “The first steps you take in your homeland are absolutely unforgettable. They’re life-changing. It was an honor to work with WhatsApp to capture that moment for Giannis and to share a story that not only I can relate to, but so many people across the world can see themselves in, too.”
Ugo is the latest in the partnership between WhatsApp and Antetokounmpo, since the partnership was initially unveiled at the NBA All-Star Game in February 2022. Ugo features appearances from key global Nigerian creatives including Grace Ladoja, entrepreneur and founder of Homecoming; Stephen Tayo, photographer; and Yeni Kuti, the daughter of Fela Kuti.