As Hollywood continues to find its footing during an unprecedented strike from both the WGA and Screen Actors Guild, one independent studio that is stepping up in full support of the guilds and the creatives is Urban Genius. As a full-service independent entertainment studio, it is currently producing and developing impactful stories and meaningful entertainment, with its current brand partners and content garnering over 100MM views across digital platforms from audiences around the world.
Urban Genius was started in 2014 by CEO and producer Jaron Marquis, who dreamed of changing the industry norms while challenging the belief that urban stories did not have a global audience. Today, it is an award-winning production company and independent studio that is quickly becoming an entertainment powerhouse.
“We absolutely love producing comedy,” says Jaron, who created one of the most well-known independent comedy brands ‘Laugh After Dark.’ “I remember wanting to create a stand-up comedy experience similar to the ones I watched as a child. I then began to develop the series and entertainment brand currently known as Laugh After Dark. During its development, I began location scouting to find the best location, and I brought in production partners. That was the first step in making that a reality. Urban Genius Entertainment has since begun producing comedy feature films and unscripted comedy television. It is entirely exciting to see how far we have come and the amazing projects we have on our slate.”
At Urban Genius, Jaron leads a team of writers, producers, directors, production executives and creatives to develop and create podcasts, television series, digital streaming, film production and financing, music, and branded content. Its projects are distributed on premium subscription networks, digital platforms, and theatrical, major cable, and broadcast channels. Urban Genius is partnered with several investment funds and banks to enable streamlined packaging, production, financing, and sales opportunities.
“Our goal is to highlight the fascinating aspects of humanity and allow the wonderful talent of creatives to entertain audiences and provoke meaningful conversations on a global level,” Marquis says. “Whether we are producing high-level talk comedies, fictional dramatic series, unfiltered comedic poetry, film scores, or branded content, we are helping audiences to embrace new ideas, laugh a little, and find meaning in life.”
Marquis, who has an extensive background in business development, marketing, and TV/film development and production, believes the Internet has revealed a need for more innovative stories that challenge viewers around the world.
“The current WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike has created a rise in independent production. We are seeing excellent opportunities for fresh voices in entertainment because the Internet has multiplied the number of potential platforms for projects,” he says. “It used to be that a new talent had very few options to get their work in front of audiences. That’s no longer the case. While it’s true that success does not come overnight, it is equally true that creatives are more in control of their careers today than they were in the past.”
Urban Genius has partnered with independent film studio, Monty the Dog to help with the production of several feature films, including an urban comedy feature film featuring actresses Vivica A. Fox, Kyla Pratt, and Jasmine Guy and actors Mickey Rourke and Lamorne Morris. Urban Genius has also partnered with Hype + Networks to create and distribute original content across its platforms.
“We are working with film producer Quawntay “Bosco” Adams to produce the music video to the upcoming release of ’21 More Questions’ featuring recording artists Snoop Dogg, Dave East. and DJ Whoo Kid,” says Jaron. “We are also coming alongside the urban comedy platform Comedy Hype to produce stand-up comedy specials after our success with comedian Pierre’s comedy special ‘Half-Truths.’ 2023 is really turning out to be a very strong year for us, and we are excited about the world-class level of talent we will be working with in the months to come.”
Having built Urban Genius from the ground up, Jaron has some suggestions for creatives who feel daunted by the odds of finding success in the hyper-competitive entertainment industry.
“Two things are true here in Los Angeles: nothing will ever replace hard work, and there is always room for new talent,” he says. “So, if you have a story in your heart, it is time to tell it. If you have a comedy routine and are funny, get up on stage. At Urban Genius, we are all working to develop ourselves into more talented artists. Work with us and be who you are in your soul: an entertainer.”
Urban Genius is an entertainment development and production studio founded in 2014 by creative entrepreneur Jaron Marquis. Urban Genius produces stories of universal themes that inspire and connect. Its full suite of entertainment production services include film and TV financing and production, content creation, music solutions, label services, and more. For more information about Urban Genius, please see https://www.urbngenius.com/.