Faces of Black Excellence January 04, 2022 at 03:30 pm

Comedian makes history turning abandoned theater into movie studio named after Black Wall Street

Abu Mubarik January 04, 2022 at 03:30 pm

January 04, 2022 at 03:30 pm | Faces of Black Excellence

Amaru, (Greenwood District Studios)

Amaru is a standup comedian turned entrepreneur. He has been in the entertainment industry for 25 years and his breakthrough came when he became an aspiring writer in Los Angeles for rapper and actor Master P.

He capitalized on his association with the rapper to build his own network. Over time, he decided to create his own path. He also experienced a lot of broken promises in his quest to do something successfully.

“As you’re in the business, you begin to get tired of waiting,” Amaru said. “Waiting for people to follow through is not what I like to do.”

Today, he is bringing to Michigan its first Black-owned television and movie studio. Amaru is turning the old Lansing Mall Cinema at 921 Mall Drive W. into “Greenwood District Studios.” According to him, he was inspired to open the studio by a number of events including the death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“How can I bring back my job and others some jobs?”

“Hope was the number one thing that came up and doing away with the despair that’s happening around, especially with our youth,” Amaru, 47, told Michigan Live.

That is how he came up with the idea of Greenwood District Studios, which he named after the famous Greenwood Street or Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The old Lansing Mall Cinema closed in 2014 and Amaru is working assiduously to bring it back to life.

Together with his team, they are revitalizing the abandoned building by cleaning up debris, installing new cinema screens, stages and technical support, according to AP. While the production space is still being constructed, the studio opened its comedy club in September called Funny Is Funny. 

Funny is Funny comedy club is being operated to give local talent a chance to shine. It has open mic nights on Tuesdays, with professional standup comedians performing on the weekends.

“It may not be about me, it may be about somebody that comes along that I give him an opportunity to blow up,” Amaru said. “It might be somebody that has yet to come that might be that spark.”

Although the studio is Black-owned and is seeking to reach out to Black entertainers, Amaru said Black-owned doesn’t mean Black only. According to him, the studio’s account on TikTok has garnered over 96,000 international followers.

Construction of the Greenwood District Studios is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

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