By Dawn Paul, Associate Editor
Beyonce’, Debbie Allen, and Phylicia Rashad were all born in Houston, Texas. Of course Houston rappers Paul Wall and Slim Thug always proclaim their love of this city loud and proud. There is no doubt that Houston has definitely helped shape and catapult the careers of superstars. Houston also attracts star power. John Singleton has visited the campus of Texas Southern University, and Janet Jackson, Kevin Hart, and other celebrities have made it a point to put Houston on their tour schedule. In addition to concerts, conferences, and celebrity events, Houston hosts major events that attract countless people and put our city on the map, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is considered the biggest rodeo in the world. Houston Appreciation Weekend has welcomed Drake, who praises Houston as his favorite city outside of Toronto. One of the biggest events around the world, Super Bowl LI, will be hosted right here in Houston next month.
So the question remains, with all of this star power coming out of Houston, and with so many celebrities frequenting this city, why is Houston not on the map for entertainment? According to Census data, Houston recently passed New York to become the most ethnically and racially diverse city in the United States. With Houston being one of the most diverse and largest cities in the Nation, why is this city not the “go to” for film, TV, and music productions? There are so many local artists and talent who are pounding the pavement hard, working to get opportunities through Houston, but feel they have to move to LA or New York to make it in the entertainment business. Many of them do move out of Houston because they feel that the opportunities to live their Hollywood dreams just are not here. Now of course New York and LA are the hot spots for the entertainment business, and the connections are there. There is no denying that those destinations are well-known for entertainment. Some say Houston just can’t compete with those other major cities that attract producers.
When many think Houston, naturally they think oil and gas and the Houston Texans, but Houston has much to offer as well when it comes to entertainment industry. This has not gone unnoticed by Mayor Sylvester Turner, and he recently hosted a kick off reception for the Houston Film and Entertainment Summit. This hosted television and film executives, producers, and actors, including Debra Martin Chase and Robin Givens. This event also included discussion on tax incentives and workforce development. Mayor Turner is working diligently to put Houston on the radar and attract entertainment executives, encouraging them to see Houston as a great option to produce major productions. He believes, like many Houstonians, that this city can be competitive and accommodate the needs of those looking to produce national and international films, music, and television shows. Not only does he want to put our great city on a larger platform, bringing more major events, and opening doors for local talent, but it is also about economic growth and development for Houston.
These major productions will bring jobs to Houston, benefitting the city and Houstonians. Imagine the increase of jobs and the economic boom in Houston as a result of Hollywood coming to Houston. Imagine the endless opportunities for all of the local, deserving, and undiscovered talent who would receive their “big break” that would open doors. Those seeking Hollywood also would not have to leave Houston and go outside of the city. Not only that, but by word of mouth and coverage on a national level, more executives would look to Houston as a place to make their blockbuster project.
You may not be aware, but many iconic films have been made in Houston and the surrounding areas including:
- RoboCop 2
- Reality Bites
- Jason’s Lyric
- Independence Day
- Arlington Road
Though there have been major films made in Houston, Mayor Turner knows that Houston can attract more producers, and this summit is just the beginning. He wants filmmakers and executives in the industry to think Houston before New York. This is a city where people can dream big and succeed, and that includes movies, music, and television. Many are behind the Mayor in this endeavor, wanting to see the city continue to improve its economic outlook.
Houston is proud to continue to offer opportunities for all and celebrates its diversity of people, places, and economy. Houston promotes healthy and resilient communities through smart civic investments, dynamic partnerships, education, and innovation. Houston is the place where anyone can prosper.
The Mayor wants to continue to strive to work towards Houston having a thriving, resilient, and diverse economy. This city’s exemplary climate for business, entrepreneurial spirit, support for innovation, and world-wide competitiveness are some of the elements that make Houston so attractive. This city has a culture that encourages innovation. Houston is a city of opportunity, industry, and community. Above all, it is a city of growth. The Mayor and city leadership are working together to best serve this growth, and this summit is part of that. You have to have a general plan or a comprehensive plan – a document that sets forth the city’s priorities and how to coordinate and ensure that a city grows according to those priorities and vision. While Houston has managed fairly well over the years, the dynamics of the city have changed, and the population is rapidly growing.
Mayor Turner believes that we have to build a city not only for today, but for the future. Encouraging more film, television, and entertainment producers to make their projects in Houston is part of building a city for the future. He believes that if we can think far enough ahead, there is no limit to what we can do. With Houston hosting Super Bowl LI, this is guaranteed to put our city on a major platform for star power to see what we have to offer.