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Alisa Starks

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Information about Alisa Starks

Profile image of Alisa Starks

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Leisure Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/14/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Leisure Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/14/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Alisa Starks is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Advertising executive and entrepreneur Alisa A. Starks helped launch the country's first African American-owned chain of movie theaters. Born in Chicago on September 14, 1960, Starks grew up on Chicago's South Side.

Starks graduated from Aquinas Dominican High School in 1978, enrolling at Northwestern University. She received her B.S. in journalism in 1982 and her M.S. in 1983 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. From 1984 to 1989, Starks worked in advertising for Burrell Communications Group in Chicago. She and her husband, Donzell, lived in Los Angeles for two years before returning to Chicago. Starks returned to Burrell, where she became a vice president.

Deciding to take the entrepreneurial plunge, the Starkses began to explore partnerships to build new theater complexes in minority neighborhoods-areas that major movie chains had been historically neglected. In 1997, they beat out Magic Johnson to win financial support from the city of Chicago to build three multiplexes on Chicago's South and West sides. The new theaters were hailed for their aesthetic beauty and their ability to bring jobs to otherwise neglected and rundown areas. By 1999, the Starkses expanded their theater empire, building a new cinema in Charlotte, North Carolina, and setting their sights on other inner-city neighborhoods around the country. The same year, their company partnered to create the Meridian Entertainment Group, which began by opening a chain of Meridian Theaters and by acquiring eight existing Chicago movie theaters. In just two years, the Starkses had gone from just three multiplexes to controlling 20 percent of Chicago's movie screens. A downturn in the market and other problems forced the Starks to cut back to their original investments, which they operate today. They see their movie theaters as community centers.

Alisa Starks has been an active leader in several community and civic organizations. She has served on the boards of the Muntu Dance Theatre, the Metropolitan Pier of Exposition Authority, the Ancona School and the Chicago International Film Festival. Starks and her high school sweetheart, Donzell, married in 1988. They have one child, Ahmad, and live on Chicago's South Side.

Alisa Starks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2003.

See how Alisa Starks is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alisa Starks' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about her maternal family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks talks about her mother's upbringing and career as a school teacher in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes her parents' marriage and her home life as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks describes her paternal family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks talks about her father's upbringing, career, and personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks remembers how her parents fought for her admittance to St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alisa Starks recalls celebrating black history at age eight
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks talks about her grade school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about her militancy as a youth and why she stopped speaking out
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks describes her experience at St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes the role of religion in her childhood and her parents' value for education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks talks about her decision to major in journalism as a senior at Aquinas Dominican High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks talks about her undergraduate experience at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about the beginning of her career at Burrell Advertising, pt.1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alisa Starks talks about the beginning of her career at Burrell Advertising, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alisa Starks talks about dating relationship and marriage to HistoryMaker Donzell Starks
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks reminisces about meeting her husband, HistoryMaker Donzell Starks and their mutual interest in business entrepreneurship
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes her experience living in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks explains the beginning of her dream to open a black-owned movie theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks talks about an opportunity to open a movie theater in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks describes an opportunity to open a movie theater in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks talks about acquiring the land in Chicago, Illinois to build Inner City Entertainment Theaters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks recounts an important partnership with Cineplex Odeon
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about the changes in Lawndale and Chatham, neighborhoods on Chicago, Illinois's South and West sides
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks describes her understanding of the influence of community relationships on the longevity of businesses
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks describes catering to her clientele
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about how the theaters engage African American communities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alisa Starks describes the "hat controversy" at one of her movie theaters
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alisa Starks talks about the reception of different films amongst black audiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alisa Starks reflects upon black independent filmmaking
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alisa Starks describes marketing independent films
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alisa Starks talks about providing entry-level jobs in the community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alisa Starks shares her hopes and concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alisa Starks considers her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alisa Starks talks about how she would like to be remembered