LANSING, Mich. (AP) Construction is underway for what owners say is the first Black-owned television and movie studio in Michigan.
Standup comedian and director turned entrepreneur, Amaru, who only goes by one name, said it was a combination of events with the death of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic that inspired him to open Greenwood District Studios, MLive.com reports. “How can I bring back my job and others some jobs?” Amaru said. “Hope was the number one thing that came up and doing away with the despair that’s happening around, especially with our youth.”
Racial equity and community demand, self motivation and support spurred an increase of many Black-owned businesses over the course of the pandemic, according to Millie Chu, a business consultant of DEI programs for the Michigan Small Business Center. “Some were laid off and pursued entrepreneurship out of necessity and some chose to quit their jobs to pursue their dreams,” Chu said. “In all, the pandemic has caused us to take another look at options or what truly matters. Often that option or dream is owning a business.” Located in the old Lansing Mall Cinema, the lot sat vacant since the cinema’s closing in 2014. As a professional entertainer, Amaru knew the 27,000-square-foot lot would perfectly house what’s needed for the film and audio production process, from pre-production to postproduction and everything in between.
“We lucked up and got one building to do everything we want to do,” Amaru said.
While the project has been making steady progress, reutilizing abandoned buildings doesn’t come without challenges.