Debuted on September 20 at the Metrograph Theater in New York City, the WhatsApp film, Naija Odyssey, explores the importance of international connectivity through the lens of NBA All-Star MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The storyline is a Nigerian twist on The Odyssey by Homer, which is the story of the Greek hero Odysseus who travels the world trying to get back home. The Greek and Nigerian basketball star’s journey mirrors the epic Greek poem and exemplifies the significance WhatsApp has had in connecting individuals to their community back home.
Touching on the plurality of Antetokounmpo’s heritage, Naija Odyssey showcases the basketball star’s rise all while facing the challenges of being apart from loved ones. The platform WhatsApp has been central to Antetokounmpo’s connectivity with family. The film is narrated by the NBA player himself and begins at the start of his career where he moved to Milwaukee from Greece to play for the Bucks. “As a Nigerian raised in Greece who is currently stationed in the United States, I’ve always felt a sense of otherness and lack of belonging,” says Antetokounmpo. “Using WhatsApp to stay connected to my family while abroad has been pivotal to furthering my understanding of who I am no matter where I am. Naija Odyssey brings my story to life.”
The New York-based agency Translation collaborated with local crews and creatives as nearby as Milwaukee and as far-spanning as Nigeria, Greece, Athens, Paris, Berlin, Ireland, and London to shoot, edit, and sound mix the film. The four part series takes us to Antetokounmpo’s early childhood days in Greece, where we can see his deepest familial roots to then Nigeria to celebrate the culture his parents instilled in him to shape him into who he is today. The last chapter shares reflective moments with Giannis on how his relationships from afar have fueled his achievements and pride in his identity.
“Naija Odyssey is the story of how WhatsApp has helped just one user maintain his relationships, understand his identity, and ultimately thrive,” says Vivian Odior, head of Marketing at WhatsApp. “We can’t wait to share it with the billions of people around the world who rely on the platform to connect with friends and loved ones daily, and have been similarly impacted, enabled, and empowered by WhatsApp.”.