These two innovators met when Coodie, a passionate Chicago-born storyteller, needed an artist, New Orleans-born Chike, to produce a trailer for Coodie’s documentary about Kanye West’s life, while accurately reflecting the African American culture.

Within a year after the Kanye project and received critical acclaim, Chike and Coodie knew they wanted to creatively “change the film-making game” and launched Creative Control in January of 2016.

Lynn: How do you envision this honor impacting your business?
Coodie and Chike: We appreciate the cache that comes with this honor and being part of the Black Creativity Exhibit. . . We want to inspire and educate children on how to tell stories that accurately reflect the African-American culture.

Who were some of your early career influences?
Coodie: I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and always wanted to tell stories about these neighborhoods. I learned how to tell stories while studying acting and working in comedy. Richard Pryor’s movie JoJo Dancer inspired me creatively. It also helped me understand the importance of creative control since he was the writer and director.

Chike: After graduating from art school at Savanah College of Art and Design, I started my career creating film packages
for MTV’s movies. This was a stepping stone to do what I really wanted, which was produce music videos. My creative influences included Chris Cunningham, Dave Meyers, and Hype Williams.

Coodie and Chike: Ernie Barnes, the first American professional athlete to become a noted painter, continues to inspire both of us.

Lynn: What is your “Why” for Creative Control? How did design thinking contribute?
Coodie: We knew if we wanted people of color to have opportunities in filmmaking, we had to create our own lane. It’s why we have directors and producers in one company.

Chike: Creative Control shapes the integrity and gives us control over our work. Once people trust our vision, we (want to cultivate) the talent that helps us make the biggest impact.

Lynn: What types of challenges do you want to address?
Coodie and Chike: We want to empower people with enough resources to achieve their goals. . . We want to provide access to people of color in the film industry. . . We want to demonstrate through film, how a person’s actions (good and bad) can impact more than one person–they can impact a whole city.

Lynn: What’s next for your business?
Chike and Coodie: Building a distribution platform that empowers more people of color produce and direct films. This includes “studio hubs” that help filmmakers create content reflecting their communities, and a network that provides a space to learn and teach, be more spiritual, and change lives.

What advice do you have for students?
Chike and Coodie: There is no dream that is too big. Follow that passion even if you don’t know how it’s going to be realized. Fuel the fire. Blindly follow what you are passionate about.