Young people are no longer waiting for opportunities to be given to them, they are creating them. That was the case for 23-year-old aspiring actress, musician, and model, Chatejah George from Atlanta. She began pursuing her dreams of building a career in entertainment as a teenager. What she quickly noticed was that there was a lack of both support and spaces for up-and-coming creatives to use for making their music videos, films, and YouTube content. That’s how C&C Movie Film Studio was born.
George made the decision to open her own film studio in Riverdale, Georgia after people refused to let her use their locations to film her YouTube shows. The idea came from her own need, but her motivation also derived from her desire to help other young people in their journey to pursuing their own dreams while also providing jobs for others. Complex chatted with the young entrepreneur about her new business, how she got started and her dreams of one day working with Tyler Perry, Issa Rae, and Ava DuVernay.
George has been in the industry since she was a child. She won radio contests as a rapper, got a record deal, designed her own clothing line, and took work as an extra in various movies and TV shows all before she turned 23. She realized quickly how challenging it would be to break into the entertainment business and began taking matters into her own hands. “I started in the music industry, rapping and performing when I was 15 years old. I won an Epic record deal with Streetz 94.5, and $10,000,” she told Complex about her start. “From there, I kept performing at all the clubs in Atlanta. I won a bunch of other contests, I performed for Bossip, opened up for Faith Evans, I opened up for a lot of people just doing music. From there, I did a school tour with Streetz 94.5, called Stop the Bullying. I did a campaign and we went around all the schools in Atlanta talking to all the kids about bullying.”
She tried a little bit of everything in the hopes that something would pay off. “I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I just like to create stuff, so whether it was music, acting, as long as it’s creating something. I also created my own clothing line when I was 15. If it involved creating, then I wanted to be a part of it,” George said. “I also did extra work. I was trying to get signed to an agency in Atlanta but the agencies I did get signed to weren’t really getting me any bookings in the film industry so I just started doing extra work. I did Tyler Perry sets, I did a Greenleaf set, a bunch of Netflix sets. I got one big one in one of my extra shows, everyone was telling me they saw me in the Netflix show with Debby Ryan. So I just kept trying from there.”
Working with agencies wasn’t paying off the way she would have liked, so she started doing things her way. Instead of going the traditional route, she started creating shows and uploading videos to YouTube. That’s when she realized that there was a need for spaces for independent creatives to work. “I started making my own films because I really couldn’t figure out how to get booked on a huge role. I started posting it on YouTube and it did really well. It got over 100K views and I kept posting more episodes. I started making other shows. I just kept going with it,” George said. “I needed new places to film. I needed a salon, a church, I would call around asking people if I could use their establishment and a lot of people said ‘No,’ and I couldn’t really get in there. I just thought if I make my own, I could film and also provide opportunities and jobs for young filmmakers and independent filmmakers as well.”
Breaking into acting, whether in Hollywood, New York or Atlanta isn’t easy, even more so for people of color. “I just hope to inspire young Black kids and college students who want to be in the film because it’s really hard. Even actors. I see a lot of actors get discouraged because there’s so much competition out there and it’s very hard to get into film,” the businesswoman added. “I know there’s a lot of movies being filmed here, but to be a part of that is very hard. It’s a connection thing, it’s who you know, so I just want to provide more opportunities and jobs so that more talent can get out there.” After experiencing that need personally, George’s goal was to make the path easier, more accessible, and affordable to not only herself but for other people like her. She understands the impact C&C Movie Film Studio will have on young people in the Atlanta area, and she’s already receiving a lot of support. “It means a lot. There’s not a lot of places where people can film at anyway, and if there is, it is super expensive and you can’t even afford it. I wanted to make something that’s affordable; it’s $100 an hour and we’re beating everyone’s prices right now because everyone else charges way more than that,” she said. “We had to take the tours off the calendar because there was, like, 20 people a day booking just to come in. A lot of people even stop by, take a tour, [then] book to shoot their music videos and films. We also had a few summer camps come to view it, we had some kids come. There’s a little bit of everyone coming through.”
She’s getting major attention and support from people on social media, including Rick Ross who stopped by her studio for a tour in June. Another celebrity she is trying to connect with is Tyler Perry. Perry is the perfect role model for George since he owns his own film production studio, Tyler Perry Studios, which is located on a 330-acre lot in the heart of Atlanta. George’s heart is set on one day teaming up with Perry, who has already accomplished so many of the dreams she has for herself. “I would like to work on his set hopefully, like write something for him or help produce. I have a lot of ideas and I just don’t have a lot of the materials to do it. My ideas are huge, I would need help and a budget. I need a budget for filming. I just would love to work with him. And hopefully, he’ll see this interview and reach out,” she said. “Even Shonda Rhimes, I look up to her. Ava DuVernay. Even Issa Rae. She’s also amazing. A lot of people say that my story reminds them of Issa Rae as well. I want to work on the big sets as well. I’m just doing it by myself. So if they see this, hopefully, they can reach out. I would really appreciate that.”
While working with big names like those Hollywood giants is her dream, seeing what she is accomplishing with her own business is already pretty remarkable. She also relied on her community and local businesses to build the studios in a way that was financially responsible without the need to take out loans or break the bank. The studio has several rooms people can rent, including a hospital room, a grocery store/gas station, an office, a doctor’s office, a dressing room, a classroom, a barbershop, a dining room, a kitchen, and more. She furnished the rooms with items that were given to her or were purchased online at a discounted price. “Everything is used and then a lot of people gave me stuff. There were a lot of businesses closing down due to COVID so they just gave me chairs and desks. A lot of the stuff we either repainted it or remodeled to make it look new. A lot of stuff was just really given or used from OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace.”
George is proud of her accomplishments, but she is still working toward more, including finding a bigger space in the future. “Right now we’re at 3,000 square feet. Just to get a bigger building, maybe 20,000 square feet. And to produce some shows on major networks. To team up with Tyler Perry, hopefully, we can partner up together and create some stuff, get some stuff on HBO, Starz, Netflix, Amazon Prime,” she said. “Also to have an agent. I also act as well, I want to get signed to a major agent to help me get out there.”
At her young age, George has a business mindset that far surpasses some people who are twice her age. Her love for creating and appreciation for creators helps her stay grounded and focused on supporting and helping others while she climbs her way to the top. She might just be the next Issa Rae in the making.