By Florence Amagiya
The story of Nigeria’s entertainment industry would be incomplete without Ben Murray- Bruce. He is the front line Entertainer in Nigeria and West Africa. Ben Bruce single-handedly revolutionized the cinema business, he started the Silverbird Productions with a capital of N20, 000. Today, Ben Bruce has built a business empire running into several billions of Naira and he has provided platforms and employments for so many youths who are in need of it.
It was on his platform that the winner of Miss World was discovered in person of Agbani Darego. Mr. Ben Murray- Bruce is the chairman of the Silverbird group. Silverbird has one of the best TV stations in Nigeria known as the Silverbird Television which provides the best entertainment money can buy.
Silverbird group also has a branch of Silverbird Television in Los Angeles known as the ‘MAGIC MORNING’. In this edition, I present to you, Benedict Murray- Bruce, one of the great things to happen to Africa’s entertainment. Ben Bruce is currently eyeing a Senatorial position in his state.
Even though Ben Murray- Bruce could be described as someone who grew up in a comfortable home; he had his own share of challenges as a young man. He worked at his father’s departmental store known as Domino like other children would do for their parents. Young Ben had so many dreams,one of them was to be a Professor of History even though he later got admission to read Marketing and Business at the University.
While in the University, he incidentally fell in love with show business. He found out later in life that he was born to entertain people because of the joy he derived each time he did a show. Ben Murray- Bruce has been the biggest source of entertainment in Nigeria and West Africa since he started. In fact, he says that “his business is all about entertainment”.
Ben was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1956, precisely on February 18th to an Ijaw mother, Margaret Murray- Bruce from Akassa and father whose name is Mullighan. As a public Servant, Ben’s father was one of the few men who worked with the UAC. He attended Primary and Secondary School in Lagos state before he proceeded to the University of Southern Carolina to study Marketing and Business Administration.
The episode that transformed his life for the bes
Ben Murray- Bruce recounted the incident that transformed his life for good. According to him, he was at home one day in Los Angeles, USA while he was still a student when somebody knocked at his door.
He opened his door to see a stranger he hadn’t met in his life. While they were discussing he found that the man was a teacher to so many great celebrities like Janet Jackson, Todd Bridges, Garry Coleman and as young as he was, he saw an opportunity in meeting these great people. So he made the man his friend and that was the best thing he did.
He had the chance of meeting his new friend’s student and got contacts that later helped him bring pure entertainment from the highest place to Africa. And that was where he got his break as everyone including his father believed him from then.
While abroad, he met a teacher of music who was at that time teaching the likes of Janet Jackson and some other great names. That was where he met Redd Fox of the Sandford and Sons’ fame, the Jeffersons and others. Ben Bruce met a lot of actors and actresses through his friend and when he was given a proposition to do a show in Nigeria, he excelled.
After Ben ventured into show business by accident, his parents didn’t take it easy with him as it was assumed that he was a joker. After been caught by his father while dancing, he was asked to do something better with his life as that didn’t meet the standard of his dad. Severally, his dad threatened to break his two legs if he ever caught him dancing. It went on like that until his father decided to tolerate his show business, as he didn’t ever believe he would go anywhere with it. Today, Ben Bruce’s father enjoys the attention he is getting as father of Ben.
What started as a joke according to his father with mere borrowing of N20, 000 in 1980 has become a conglomerate. Today, Mr. Ben Murray Bruce has not only taken the role of a motivational speaker to Nigerian youths, but he is also a director of several companies in Nigeria as well as in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Silverbird group has more than a hundred staff, it has three radio stations, Rhythm 93.7 in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt and Silverbird Television; the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria. Ben Murray- Bruce entry into the pageantry business came at a time when Miss Nigeria franchise was losing its glamour and the interest of Nigerians and its sponsor.
His brainchild, Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant took over the market from the Miss Nigeria. MBGN produced the likes of Omasan Buwa, Bianca Onoh and Agbani Darego. Agbani Darego became the first Nigerian and African to have won the Miss World pageant.
Silverbird group is selling out franchise of their Cinemas to allow business men buy right to building cinemas in the group’s name. Silverbird group also has the Galleria and a Magic Morning Television in Los Angeles which Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora watch to stay in touch with their roots.
Ben Murray- Bruce is married to Evelyn, an American with two boys and a girl. One of his boys called Jonathan Bruce is married and also managing one of the chains of Silverbird group.