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Ron Brown, Birmingham Businessman, Reaches No. 1 With Film on Movie App

Ron Brown is the executive movie producer, director and founder of Pivot Motion Pictures in Birmingham. (Provided)

Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | For The Birmingham Times

Six months ago, Birmingham’s Waljeron “Ron” Brown Sr. had never heard of the international television movie app Tubi. Little did he know it would change his life.

For three weeks from Dec. 30, 2023 to Jan. 21, 2024, the movie he executive produced, ‘Please,’ held onto the number one spot. The urban movie revolves around the female lead character’s life of trauma and betrayal in relationships.

“Life was going really well, and I’d taken a little time off to reflect. So I found this little app on my smart tv called Tubi and I started watching it,” said Brown, executive movie producer, director and founder of Pivot Motion Pictures in Birmingham. He was familiar with other movie streaming apps but was simply exploring other options on his smart TV.

“I came across a movie called ‘Faithful’, and it was directed by this guy Dennis Reed II, of DR2 Productions in Detroit,” said Brown. “I watched that movie and it ended unlike I would have thought it would end and I was like, ‘I like this [app] right here.’”

“Before I knew it, within about a two-week timeframe, I’d watched 10 of this guy’s movies,” said Brown.

Making the Connection

Brown reached out to Reed through his Instagram account with a direct message and introduced himself as a 2016 Birmingham School Law graduate, “because that law degree gives you credibility,” said Brown.

He let Reed know he wanted to invest in some of his films, so Reed asked Brown about a meeting on a Tuesday in early May 2023.

Two days later, on a Thursday, Ron and his wife Naomi were on a flight to meet him.

“When we went there, we really had no expectation, but we were literally blown away.”

They (Reed and his movie production crew) were in full swing, filming the movie ‘The Affair,’ which is on Tubi now. The Browns saw the whole process behind the scenes, “from the cut, action, do that again, lights, lunch – we got to see the whole process,” said Brown.

Brown said they hung out a few days in May 2023 and while he offered to executive produce, or invest in Reed’s movies, Reed in turn agreed to help Brown with distribution for a comedy show he was already planning called ‘Finally… Famous?’

The special featured Brown’s friend comedian Karl ‘Special K’ Douglas in a one-man show at the Red Mountain Theatre on October 14, 2023. Special K is a comedian from Atlanta who can be heard on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show nationwide.

Taking The First Step

Brown said ‘Finally … Famous?’ was significant in that it was the first project that he directed and executive produced, and it was also the first time an African American stand-up comic hosted a one-hour special at Red Mountain Theatre.

“It’s one of those things where you make one step and God makes another,” he said. “We were in the process of making the stand-up show and met Reed (who agreed to help Brown with distribution on Tubi, available in a few weeks).”

Their first movie collaboration in which Brown helped Reed executive produce was ‘Please’ on Tubi. The movie held the number one spot for three weeks when it was released at the end of December to January 21.

They are currently working on other projects.

For the comedy special at Red Mountain Theatre, Brown said his total investment was $7,000.

Brown is also working on a couple of upcoming projects. He invested in another movie project entitled ‘Déjà Vu,’ which was shot in Detroit and will be coming out in the next few months. Brown describes it as a thriller with a major lesson about life.

And then, there’s Brown’s home-grown project in the Magic City. “We just shot our first movie here (in Birmingham) called ‘Nate and Deez Nuts,’ which chronicles a special needs young man who’s attempting to go to the strip club for the first time.”

“When I do my projects here, from production, to makeup, to everything we did, if your business wasn’t based in Alabama, I wouldn’t work with you,” said Brown.

And one of the greatest things he said he’s proud of, is that he gets to show a positive image of Alabama through his work.

“When it comes to a lot of things, Alabama gets a bad rap,” said Brown. “When I say I live in Alabama, it’s always a pause. If we’re talking football, it’s amazing. But anything else, it’s like ‘Why do you live there?’”

Remembering His Roots

Brown, 48, has spent well over a decade in this state, but Chicago, Illinois is his home.

He grew up in the Catholic faith and graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Chi-Town in 1993.

Brown has a gregarious personality, but the tone gets more serious when he talks about the role faith has played in his life.

“I think faith is very important and I’m grateful for my parents giving me a faith-based education.  It always let me know that God was real, and I was never alone in this world,” Brown said.

With all of his work, Brown said his family support has been the foundation. He’s been married to wife Naomi, an actress, for 16 years and collectively, they have three sons and one daughter – oldest adult daughter Paige, Ashton, Waljeron Jr. and Jaxson.

After he graduated high school, Brown attended Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, about two hours from his home in Chicago.

But he said he left the university after a few years to pursue retail jobs. His success in sales led him all over the country with managerial positions.

“I’ve lived in 27 cities mainly across the Southeast including Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans and Monroe, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; and Greenville, Mississippi….  as a result of the jobs I’ve taken in sales,” said Brown, whose last job in retail was as a market manager for CVS when he came to Atlanta in 2002.

“I also owned a mortgage company in Atlanta for about five years (2004– 2010) and I thought I’d do that until the day that I die,” said Brown.

“My branch, Southcore Mortgage, did very well and I was living the American dream…. big house, cars and all of that,” said Brown.

But in 2006-2007, the real estate market crashed.

He didn’t close his real estate company right away, but Brown knew it was time for another pivot.

Reinventing Himself Again

Brown turned to reading President Barack Obama’s book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ because he said he wanted to understand what gave Obama the boldness to run for the country’s highest office.

Plus, Brown said he was down on his luck because the economy was so bad and business for his mortgage company came to a halt.

“I thought, there’s no way the United States has matured enough to think we’re going to have an African American President … I didn’t think he’d win. And lo and behold, he won.”

And upon learning that President Obama had attended law school to help propel his political career motivated Brown to go to law school.

Brown came to Birmingham in 2013 to attend Birmingham School of Law and graduated in 2016 (he did the four-year program in three years).

For Brown, although he didn’t aspire to work in the movie industry, it’s no surprise to him that he’s seeing success with Pivot Motion Pictures.

“I’ve always been a movie person,” he said. “When I married my wife Naomi, I had 1,000 DVD’s.” said Brown.

And the tenacity and steadfastness that has brought him this far, is evident in his work ethic of today. And so is his faith.

“Identifying and connecting to my faith early in life has been the key to me being successful.”