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Atlanta's Areu Bros. Open First Latinx-Owned Studios In US
Brothers Ozzie and Will Areu spent a decade in supporting roles at the Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios. During their time there, they helped produce box office blockbusters such as Acrimony, Boo! A Madea Halloween and A Madea Family Funeral.
Last year, Ozzie decided it was time for the Areus to open their own facility in Atlanta as Perry moved operations to Fort McPherson. Their production studio, aptly named Areu Bros. Studios, makes the Areus the first Cuban Americans, really the first Latinxs at all, to own and operate a film and TV studio in the United States.
Entertainment industry creatives in the Latinx community say the move comes at a fantastic time, with Georgia currently being the second-most filmed state in the country.
Alberto Enriquez, an independent producer and creative director for Atlanta-based Visualante Studios, said the brothers recognize a lack of diversity in content and talent in Hollywood and among traditional media outlets.
"(Areu Bros. Studios) will become a studio that gives creatives of color, and females, the opportunities to tell their amazing stories. Stories that need to be told," Enriquez said.
The facilities sit on the grounds of the original Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta. Areu Bros. Studios has five sound stages, 60 acres of land and a small back lot.
Ozzie Areu began his career as a security guard on the backlot of Warner Bros. Studio in California. By 22, Ozzie Areu had worked his way from parking security to a guard on the set of the highly-rated NBC show Friends.
During his time on the set of Friends, he met series star Jennifer Aniston and her then-husband Brad Pitt. He would later work as an executive assistant for nearly five years with Pitt.
Ozzie Areu kept climbing in Hollywood, completing a stint with Ellen DeGeneres and then finally moving to Atlanta to work with Tyler Perry in 2007.
He started off as Perry's executive assistant, and his responsibilities ranged from running meetings to making coffee. His younger brother, Will, would later join him at TPS, beginning his tenure with Perry as an associate producer.
As Perry's right-hand man, Ozzie Areu took notice as to how the movie mogul managed his production company and developed his creative ideas.
"On the creative side, I have never met or actually heard of anybody like him," said Ozzie Areu in an interview with Larry King. "The way he creates and tells his stories and connects with his audience I think is second to none."
Ozzie Areu was promoted to the role of president of production for the studios in 2008. Within the same time frame, Will Areu was granted the title of senior vice president.
Less than a decade later, in 2017, as Tyler Perry began looking for buyers for his first studio, Ozzie Areu saw an opportunity. With the help of investors and partners, including singer Gloria Estefan, the brothers bought the campus for themselves.
In addition to helping to showcase Latinx talent to a wider audience, actor and director Kenneth Trujillo said he hopes the new platform gives other creators the inspiration to achieve their own ambitions.
"The biggest takeaway for people of Latin ancestry is that there is a new door for us to knock on," Trujillo said. "It's inspiring to know now that it is in our backyards and that writers, producers, cinematographers and directors now have a way to see their own faces."
The company has revamped the southwest Atlanta location into a multimedia base featuring film, music, technical and television services. The company hopes to use the resources as a platform to promote the talents of Latinx-based creators and filmmakers within the Atlanta area.