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NEWS x MUSE Michael Sandoval talks with the CEO of Stuart Cinema and Cafe in Brooklyn, Emelyn Stuart. Emelyn talks about breaking ground, giving back to the community and special features that many theatre’s may not offer that helps hers stand out over the rest.

Emelyn Stuart, owner of Stuart Cinema & Café in Brooklyn, New York transformed a warehouse storing construction trucks into a cornerstone of her neighborhood. As a filmmaker, Emelyn has a passion for telling and sharing stories with people of all walks of life. As a movie theater owner, she has a passion for serving community.

To learn more about her theatre or to buy tickets to see a movie please visit

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) launched its first-ever digital video series, Behind the Screens: The Faces of Exhibition, today at CinemaCon, the world’s largest exhibition convention held at Caesars Palace attracting nearly 6,000 attendees. The series tells the stories of dedicated movie theatre leaders across the country, representing major chains with thousands of screens to independents with only one screen.  

“We are excited to premiere Behind the Screens at CinemaCon to showcase the talented and passionate people who make exhibition special,” said Michael O’Leary, NATO’s President & CEO. 

“The theatrical experience would not be what it is without their dedication and creativity. We look forward to sharing more member stories in the years ahead.”

The enterprising exhibition leaders featured in the video series to date are: 

Mayte Alquicira, Loyalty Manager, Cinépolis USA, based in Dallas: devoted to creating great experiences for a wide variety of moviegoers with unique loyalty offerings. 

David Haywood, SVP Food & Beverage, Cinemark, headquartered in Plano, Texas: pairing concessions with film to create new moviegoing memories.  

J.D. Loeks, CEO, Studio C/Celebration Cinema, Grand Rapids, Michigan: building a multipex and piazza as the anchor of a revitalized downtown entertainment hub. 

Lauren McChesney & Matt McClanahan, Co-owners, Shankweiler’s Drive-In, Lehigh, PA: pioneering couple reviving America’s oldest continually operating community drive-in theater. 

Francisco Schlotterbeck, CEO, Maya Cinemas: a California/Nevada chain bringing a premium movie experience to family-oriented underserved communities.  

Emelyn Stuart, Stuart Cinema and Café, Brooklyn: founder of an innovative neighborhood cornerstone serving under-represented communities and the first Black Latina to own a movie theatre in New York City.  

NATO is also launching a special program celebrating the longevity of its membership at CinemaCon this year. Through its Legacy Program, NATO is honoring movie theatre companies that have been in business for 50, 75, and 100 years. The numbers are impressive: 69 companies have been in business for 50 years, 89 companies for 75 years, and 56 companies for over a century.  

“The future of the exhibition industry is bright,” added O’Leary. “A huge reason why: it’s the people in this industry who never stop innovating and creating the experiences that movie fans around the world love. We are excited to share the stories of just a few of these amazing individuals at CinemaCon this year.”