President, Executive Producer
Atlanta, GA, USA
Field: TV and Film Production
As a highly acclaimed professional in media and entertainment, Ozzie Areu has achieved success as the president of Tyler Perry Studios. In his roles as president and executive producer, Mr. Areu is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations of the company. His daily responsibilities also include working with crews, TV & film producers and talent managers, as well as managing all facets of the studio, including feature films, television shows and stage play productions. Throughout all of his professional endeavors, Mr. Areu maintains the Tyler Perry Studios vision: “A Place Where Even Dreams Believe,” intertwining worlds through storytelling and family-friendly entertainment while inspiring audiences with real life and thought-provoking issues.
Impressively, in addition to serving as the president of Tyler Perry Studios, Mr. Areu has produced numerous films and hit television shows for Tyler Perry. These films include, “For Colored Girls,” “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “Good Deeds,” “Madea’s Witness Protection,” “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” “Peeples,” “Single Mom’s Club,” and “A Madea Christmas.” In addition, Mr. Areu executive produced the production of “Madea’s Tough Love,” which is his first foray into animated films.
Mr. Areu’s past credits in entertainment also include his role as an executive producer for numerous television shows for Mr. Perry, including, “Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse,” “Meet the Browns,” “The Tyler Perry Show,” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” Currently, Mr. Areu is producing two dramatic series, titled “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and “If Loving You is Wrong,” as well as a situational comedy, “Love Thy Neighbor,” which all air on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Mr. Areu began his extensive career in 1995, when he started working at Warner Bros. In this capacity, he worked for Bright Kauffman Crane Productions on the sets of NBC Universal’s hit series, “Veronica’s Closet,” “Jessie,” and the Emmy Award-winning “Friends.” He was then provided with the opportunity of assisting actors Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt for five years during their work on such films as “Ocean’s Eleven,” and “The Good Girl.” After, Mr. Areu worked with Ellen DeGeneres before joining Tyler Perry Studios in 2006. He progressed to the role of president just two years later, in 2008.
Throughout the course of his remarkable career, Mr. Areu’s work has been consistently recognized for excellence. In 2012 and 2013, “House of Payne” received four NAACP Image Awards, including Best Comedy Series. Notably, “For Colored Girls” was named Best Picture at the 2011 BET Awards. Most recently, Mr. Areu received the Georgia Entertainment Gala’s Georgia Highlight Award, in recognition of his service to entertainment.
Featured by Variety Media, LLC, as the “right-hand man inside Perry’s empire,” Mr. Areu has produced a total of nine Perry films and currently oversees 300 employees within the studio, which spans 60 acres. Additionally, he manages 34th Street Films, a film development and production company, also owned by Mr. Perry. A true asset to Mr. Perry and the studio as a whole, Mr. Areu aspires to continue to grow the company & brand on his behalf, creating intriguing family-friendly content.
Conversation with Ozzie Areu
Worldwide Publishing: On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Ozzie Areu: Television and film production—from making the deals with the talent’s representatives, attorneys and everything else in between—is a big process in itself. Making the right deals with talent and crew within the allotted budget and schedule for each project. Working under Tyler, I manage putting all the pieces of the puzzle together for him. I am involved with all aspects of our productions, from the development stage down to the marketing for the release. I also hire the crew and the right production teams for all of our productions. I am proficient in just putting it all together and overseeing the entire project from top to bottom, along with bridging the gap between Tyler and the networks, studios, talent and personnel.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
Wow! There are so many talented executives and producers in this industry that have accomplished extraordinary things. A personal goal I set for myself is to never be out worked. I do not waiver in doing whatever it takes to accomplish the ultimate goal and task at hand. It’s about creatively finding the right solutions and best practices to achieve the desired successful outcome. My tenacity and work ethic are definitely some of the keys to my success.
What motivates you?
The opportunity of working so closely with my mentor, Mr. Tyler Perry, and being a part of this journey with him is extremely gratifying to me. In addition, being entirely involved and seeing his work from start to finish motivates me tremendously. Working on both production side and studio side at the same time definitely keeps me on my toes and I absolutely love it! Working alongside my brothers and my sister is also a dream come true.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
My short-term goal is to continue to deliver positive entertainment for the whole world to enjoy. Currently, we just started production on the four TV Shows that air on OWN: “If Loving You is Wrong,” “Love Thy Neighbor,” “Have and Have Nots,” and “For Better or Worse.” We intend to [find the right projects and] develop more films outside of Tyler Perry’s films through the 34th Street Film Company. My long-term goal is to continue to be a part this amazing journey that Tyler is on and to continue to be successful in doing this outside of the more traditional TV and film business [by] adapting along the way. Tyler took me under his wing; my goal is to stay right by his side and continue to grow the business and his brand. I am looking forward to the expansion of the studio and the new business opportunities that we are working on for the new location, as well as the long hours that go into it all!
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
It’s important to understand that every goal we set naturally comes with a plethora of [challenges]. These challenges show up in our lives as a set of obstacles or problems that we must surpass in order to get to our end destination, which is our goal. In fact, unless we successfully maneuver through bumps in the road and overcome them, than we will fail to learn the valuable lessons that are required to help us achieve — and keep — our goal when we get to that end destination.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
I find entire process, from the beginning to the end, rewarding. I love coming to work every day and being a part of this amazing organization. The team of people that we have working for us is extremely dedicated and they have all aided in the success of TPS.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
First and foremost, I would have to say my parents, for teaching me all the values that I have today. They are the first ones who inspired me to go after my dreams, have faith and believe that anything is possible. Tyler for believing in me to lead his company, giving me the room to grow and being a part of my life and business. He constantly reminds me to dream bigger. [I also found influence and an opportunity to learn from] Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. While working for them, I attended business and entertainment meetings where I learned a lot about the industry, including production and contracts from the talents point of view. Another person who has been a played a large role in my success is my brother, Will. We are extremely close and he is so talented. From growing up as little kids dreaming of working together and having our kids grow up near each other to both being top-level executives within Tyler’s organization is a true blessing. I thank God for this every day.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
I’ve learned that you [can never really] know everything, as the business is constantly evolving. You have to be focused and determined to persevere. One thing I learned at an early age is that building the right team around you—no matter what business you are in—is an important key to success. Believing in them and giving them the tools and the right opportunities to help them succeed is a tremendous way to build additional leadership teams. If you can really do this, you’re going to get a certain quality of work ethic from your employees and peers. You have to lead by example. Employees will do work, but if they are really passionate, excited and correctly guided, then they’ll do an even better job for you and the company. I have built a tremendous team here that echoes my work ethic, company values and enthusiasm for what we do. Leading by example and being a positive role model is important—if I’m not succeeding in a positive way, then people working for me at any capacity won’t always be inspired give their best.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession?
Yes, law enforcement. It’s what led me to security at Warner Brothers and doing private security for different Hollywood celebrities. It eventually led to this career.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
Be a sponge; learn all you can learn. The information and knowledge that you can gain is priceless. The most important traits to have are integrity, tenacity and to always put the company’s best interest first. Last, but not least, never ever give up! ‘Sheer persistence can be the difference between success and failure.’
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
There is so much noise in the marketplace, with more than 100 channels and endless amounts of online content to choose from. So, how do we break through the chatter and reach our audience? Sometimes, quality content alone isn’t enough to satisfy the voracious consumer appetite today. Fortunately, Tyler has such a dedicated, loyal and widespread fan base that continues to seek out, follow and support him in ever-increasing numbers, regardless of the platform. There is no one that knows his audience better than Tyler himself. Tyler has the ‘it’ factor when creating content. He is a master at knowing how to engage his audiences through his casting and writing process.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your company & services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
– How does Tyler operate outside of Hollywood in Georgia?
– How are you able to deliver such high-quality content a more cost-effective and efficient way than most other companies working in the same space?
– What would your employees say is the benefit of working for your production company?
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
My favorite work-related task is working directly with my mentor on a daily basis. I enjoy watching him direct what he has written and seeing it come to life. There’s an undeniable energy at Tyler Perry Studios. People here believe in the company’s vision—to be a part of that is an amazing experience. He inspires us all every day.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
Audiences don’t schedule plans around their favorite shows anymore. Streaming online is an easy and a more convenient way to view content, as you can view it anytime and anywhere [according to] your schedule. Additionally, social media marketing allows Tyler to advertise his brand, send his message, and receive direct feedback at any time.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
As a company, we want to be at the forefront of creating original content that can be enjoyed by viewers on all different forms of media and platforms, like OTT, for example. Some will cling to the traditional way and will have a tougher time staying relevant.