PIKESVILLE, MD (WMAR) — Robert Wright and Anthony Fykes didn't set out to be the first black owners of a movie theater in Maryland. They just wanted to open a business that could be enjoyed by their family friends and the community.
"The community has been great. The community has been extremely extremely supportive of the theater. We're working constantly to make sure that we give a good product. But its been going beyond our expectations" said Fykes.
Next Act Cinema opened in March of 2019 and is already carving a lane of its own serving up Maryland cuisines like crab cakes and the Baltimore club, along side other locally crafted treats.
"We wanted something that was a lot more boutique. We didn't want to be a Regal. We didn't want to be a AMC. We wanted to be small because we wanted guest to feel like we were being very attentive to them." said Fykes.
When it came to being the first black owned theater in the area, it didn't hit home for Wright and Fykes until a viral Instagram post. A guest at the theater shared with his followers "This is us seeing Us inside us"
"It wasn't until we launched the movie particularly early on" US " that we really saw the impact and what this meant and then once we started getting a lot more publicity about this being the first black owned theater in Maryland as well as one or two or three in the country that meant a lot and so we believe now that it's extremely empowering. It's really important for us to make sure that we get out our message, our story, our brilliant actresses and actors out to people so that they can see it also. " said Fykes.
Not only have they created a place of community, this business venture is now bridging a gap and creating new opportunities for other small businesses owners and artist.
"We're doing a lot of events now. So for example we do live jazz, happy hours, karaoke, comedy shows, and birthday parties." For Fykes, creating opportunities is very rewarding. "I always tell people we're sitting on the shoulders of people before us but we're also holding hands with the people that are here now. "
For more information on Next Act Cinema, click here.