By Jessica Rodriguez
It isn’t often that art imitates life. In the case of Ozzie Areu, his own life story is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made of: a television studio security guard becomes a film and TV producer by helping lead a new version of Hollywood outside of California hills. If it sounds too scripted, Areu’s life is living proof.
"I do not waiver in doing whatever it takes to accomplish the ultimate goal and task at hand."
The founder and chairman of the newly minted Areu Bros., the first Latino-owned film and television entertainment studio in the U.S., was born to Cuban immigrant parents and raised in Los Angeles as one of four kids. When his father passed away while he was a teen, he worked to support his family. Despite having a passion for baseball and enough talent to earn a scholarship to Sacramento State, Areu left it behind when his mother injured her back and his siblings needed him. In 1995, Areu set his sights on becoming a police officer and took a job working security at the Warner Brother Studios lot.
His dedication and hard work earned him a spot as head of security for a new show, Friends. His solid reputation led to jobs working as a personal assistant to stars like Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Ellen DeGeneres. In 2006 he landed his then, dream job: working with Tyler Perry.
His adventure with the Atlanta filmmaker changed the course of his life. Areu started as Perry’s executive assistant and two short years was promoted to President of Tyler Perry Studios. Over the course of 13 years, Areu honed his skills as a producer and executive managing the daily in’s and out’s of the studios from budgets to talent negotiations. Areu has produced thousands of hours of television for shows like "House of Payne", "Meet the Browns" and movies like "Boo! A Madea Halloween" and "For Colored Girls".
Looking towards his future, Areu literally followed in mentor Tyler Perry’s footsteps. At the end of the year Areu and his brother Will (who heads post-production at Tyler Perry Studios) announced they were opening Areu Bros. and had purchased Perry’s first studio space in southwest Atlanta. “[We’re focusing] on female and Latin stories, but focusing on the best content we can create,” Areu told Larry King during a recent interview. They plan to create a content hub focusing on television, film, music and technology production. Areu credits his family, his brother and parents especially for inspiring him. “They are the first ones who inspired me to go after my dreams, have faith and believe that anything is possible,” Areu has said.
To hit his mark, the Areus brought on an icon as a partner—Gloria Estefan. “In today’s world, visibility is more important than ever, and I’m fortunate enough to now have a platform through Will and Oz...In the midst of this seismic shift in society and culture, Areu Bros. is the game changer for female and minority voices and innovators,” Estefan told Variety of the partnership.
What will always set Areu—and his company—apart is his self-professed tenacity and work ethic. “I do not waiver in doing whatever it takes to accomplish the ultimate goal and task at hand,” he has said. That unstoppable drive has brought him far. It goes without saying the world and is waiting and watching to see what happens next.