We are building this post based on an April 2017 CNN article as it provides excellent background information on the Areu brothers. You can access the original article here.
Ozzie and Will Areu announced earlier this month the launch of AREU BROS. a studio venture including a large multi-media campus for music, tech, motion pictures and television operations. Areu Bros. Ozzie and Will Areu are first-generation Cuban Americans, they will be the first Latinos to run and own a major film and television studio in the U.S.
The Areu brothers are purchasing the former campus of Tyler Perry Studios in Greenbriar, GA. The campus sits on 60 acres and includes five sound stages, four office buildings with executive offices, post-production facilities, a theater, a commissary, and a fitness center.
“I look forward to following in the steps of Tyler, my mentor, by owning a studio that also creates content and I’m especially inspired to build a 360 world that supports minority storytellers, creators, and innovators,” Ozzie Areu said in the news release.
The Areu brothers grew up in a predominantly Cuban community in Los Angeles. Their father, a Cuban immigrant, worked the jobs he could and eventually owned car dealerships. The brothers started working as a security guard (Ozzie) and as a clerk at a mail room (Will).
We now transcript the CNN interview done in April 2017 that sheds light on the live, challenges and work the brothers did before moving (with their mother and respective families) to Atlanta in 2009.
What’s one of the hardest decisions that you’ve had to make?
Ozzie: I got a baseball scholarship from Sacramento State University, but I had to pay my own rent and food. My brother worked, and he would send me four or five hundred bucks every month. That went on for a year.
I always wanted to go pro, but my mother broke her back at the end of my first year. I had to make a decision. “Am I good enough? Is this gonna happen?” I decided the right thing to do was to come home and be with the family.
I was looking to get into law enforcement, but I didn’t finish college.
Will: When [Ozzie] went to college, I was left at home with my mom and my younger sister. I felt at such a young age, I had all this responsibility.
Ozzie: My brother and I wanted to be homicide detectives together. I got a job doing security at Warner Bros., and applied for the LAPD and the Burbank Police Department. I did the agility test, polygraph and background check for the Burbank Police Department and I was supposed to meet with the chief to get into the academy. But there was a technicality. So after all that, I was working at Warner Bros., just doing security.
Do you feel like you’ve had to work harder than your peers to get to where you are?
Will: I was working in the mail room [at the post-production house]. I’d get off at five o’clock, and I’d stay til 2:00 a.m., just learning. People might be smarter than me at the time, but nobody was ever gonna outwork me.
One day, I got a call from the [vice president of Modern VideoFilm company, where I worked]. I’m freaking out, wondering, “What did I do?”
He said, “I hear you’ve been here every single night for a long time on your own time.” And he asks, “Well, what do you wanna do?” I said, “I wanna learn. And I wanna be you one day.”
So he says, ” I’m gonna give you a shot in the tape room. I’m gonna give you two weeks. Either you can do it or you can’t.”
He put me on the graveyard shift, and from then on, I took every job that was offered. I learned everything from graphics to editing to special effects to remastering — everything that you could think of. I worked there for about 13 years and eventually I was responsible for all the operations there, handling multi-million dollar accounts.
Ozzie: We’ve had to be that much better, not just for myself and for Will, but for Tyler [Perry] as well, because of what he did for us. We felt: “We gotta be the best, better than the best executive that he could find.”
What does success mean to you?
Will: For us, success has always been to be able to take care of the family and be happy. I could never have dreamed that I would be in the position that I am today, but I knew I could make something of myself with the values my mom instilled in me.
Ozzie: I was able to bring my mom to meet President Obama during his campaign. He asked my mom “What’s important to you?” She said, “Please free my Cuba!” So when he [improved] our relationship with Cuba she felt like she had a part in it. I’m proud of that.