The Future of Hollywood Is HOUSTON

HOUSTON — Could H-Town soon be the Hollywood of the South?

Kendrick Sampson certainly thinks so. You may know him from a popular show called “Insecure.” Now he’s teaming up with a Houston city leader to bring movie magic to his hometown.

“That’s been my goal,” Sampson said. “Every chance I get, I come back here and do my best to share.”


He could have left Houston in his rear-view mirror. With roles on hit shows like “Insecure,” “How To Get Away With Murder” and “The Vampire Diaries,” he’s been steadily working in Hollywood for almost two decades. The Missouri City native can’t stay away.

“Cause he’s always here working with grassroots organizations,” City Councilmember Tarsha Jackson said. “Always advocating for something.”

Jackson also loves the world of filmmaking. She once worked for a production company in Houston in the early 2000s and said, it was frustrating to hire outside crews to complete projects.

“So I said if I ever get into a position to be able to create a space to where we can train our young men and women who isn’t to be in film, but also create a space for those who are in TV and film to be able to leave out their dream of being a director, actor etc. I’m going to do it,” Jackson said.

When Jackson and Sampson connected a few years ago, their shared interests turned into a common goal: Create a movie industry in the country’s fourth-largest city, starting with a soundstage.

“We identified Greenspoint Mall. It’s been vacant for about a decade now. It’s a place where… folks in the community shopped at one point, so what better place to create a partnership with the film industry,” Jackson said. “My job is to build up communities, create opportunities, get people in my district into some good-paying jobs.”

Sampson said he thinks the timing is prime. After months-long actors and writers strike, many people were forced to leave the industry to make ends meet. Sampson believes those people would be willing to move to a more affordable city like Houston, while also tapping into local talent.

“Part of that is, it’s already here. There are a lot of incredible filmmakers and crew,” Sampson said. “The talent here, and I think what’s important to do is connect with the training grounds that we have. We have incredible universities and colleges.”


Building a soundstage and having a trained crew are just part of it. Productions require cleaning, catering, and medical staff among other jobs. All of it requires capital. While Jackson works with her colleagues at city hall, Sampson is imploring those in the private sector to consider the possibilities.

“There is AI and there is so much new technology coming in, and I think there is an equitable way to build that,” Sampson said. “There is a forward-thinking way of building sound stages that are sustainable and making sure that the economy that’s coming in is inclusive of the people in the community.”

When it comes to the city he loves, Sampson says he never plans to leave it behind.

“If you don’t put money back into that infrastructure and people that you love most, then you’re not taking care of yourself,” he said.


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