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Donzell Starks

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Information about Donzell Starks

Profile image of Donzell Starks

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Leisure Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Baked Potatoes and Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
July
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
You Didn't Make Me, So You Can't Break Me.

Birthplace

Born:
1/7/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Leisure Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Baked Potatoes and Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
July
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
You Didn't Make Me, So You Can't Break Me.

Birthplace

Born:
1/7/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Donzell Starks is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chicago businessman and movie theater owner Donzell Starks was born on Chicago's South Side in 1960. His parents divorced when he was an infant. Raised by his grandmother, Starks exhibited a talent for basketball. His skills led to a scholarship at Western Illinois University, where Starks received a dual degree in finance and business administration. He later earned an M.B.A. from the Illinois Institute of Technology. After working in corporate America in banking and finance, Starks and his wife decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge. They formed Inner-City Entertainment in an effort to develop the large, untapped market of African American moviegoers. In 1991, Starks and his wife, Alicia, decided to focus on inner-city Chicago and they began to explore partnerships to build new theater complexes in minority neighborhoods - areas that major movie chains had historically neglected.

In 1997, Starks 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, Starks expanded his theater empire, building a new cinema in Charlotte, North Carolina, and setting his sights on other inner-city neighborhoods around the country. The same year, the company partnered to create the Meridian Entertainment Group, which began by opening a chain of Meridian Theaters and then aquired eight existing Chicago movie theaters. In just two years, Starks had gone from just three multiplexes to controlling 20 percent of Chicago's movie screens. A downturn in the market and other problems forced Starks to cut back to their original investments, which he operates with his wife today. They see their movie theaters as community centers.

Donzell Starks married his high school sweetheart, Alisa, in 1988. They were both life and business partners and lived with their son, Ahmad, in Chicago.

Starks passed away on October 2, 2016.

See how Donzell Starks is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donzell Starks' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donzell Starks lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donzell Starks talks about his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donzell Starks reflects on his relationship with his adoptive mother, birth mother, and stepfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Donzell Starks talks about his absent father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Donzell Starks remembers his first childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Donzell Starks describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Donzell Starks describes his grade school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Donzell Starks describes his childhood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Donzell Starks talks about his childhood activities and religious upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donzell Starks reflects on his high school basketball career, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donzell Starks reflects on his high school basketball career, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donzell Starks talks about meeting his wife and the impact her family had on him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donzell Starks recalls his experience at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donzell Starks describes his business mentor at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donzell Starks talks about his final years at Western Illinois University and his first jobs out of college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donzell Starks talks about working for the Bank of Montreal in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Donzell Starks remembers when he and his wife, HistoryMaker Alisa Starks, first began to think about opening a movie theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donzell Starks describes the origin of Inner City Entertainment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donzell Starks talks about choosing the location for Inner City Entertainment's first theater
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donzell Starks describes his battle for real estate against Magic Johnson
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donzell Starks remembers the support of his community during the development of Inner City Entertainment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Donzell Starks talks about his foundation, Fundamentally Sound
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Donzell Starks talks about a brief hats-off policy at ICE Theaters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Donzell Starks details the community impact of Inner City Entertainment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Donzell Starks talks about his desire to build a sports complex
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donzell Starks describes his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donzell Starks describes his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donzell Starks talks about different theaters he owned with his wife, HistoryMaker Alisa Starks
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donzell Starks reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donzell Starks remembers the challenge of securing a loan for Inner City Entertainment as a young, black male
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donzell Starks shares his thoughts on professional athletes and money
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donzell Starks describes how he would like to be remembered