Aug 30, 2022 - News

Kwame Amoaku on his new job in NYC

Guy in a blue hat and a suit
Kwame Amoaku. Courtesy of the NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment

After 25 years in Chicago film and TV, Kwame Amoaku shocked the city this spring by stepping down as director of the Chicago Film Office.

  • Some assumed it was connected to the severe injuries he suffered after confronting three criminals trying to steal his car.

Why it matters: Amoaku tells us that his departure was more about landing a dream job in New York City as deputy commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.

  • "If anything needs to be filmed [in NYC], I'm the person that permits and facilitates it and advises them on production," Amoaku said during a recent call from his office in The Ed Sullivan Theater.

By the numbers: The volume of film work he handles in NYC is "eight times the amount of work I handled in Chicago," he says.

  • "In 2019 we had 15 episodic projects going on in Chicago at one time with a record breaking $575 million in revenue," he explained. "At the same time here, there were 80 episodic projects, 315 feature films and $81 billion of revenue."
  • OK, we get it.

The intrigue: When asked if he left because of crime — specifically the attack last spring — Amoaku said, "Not at all. This was something that was in the works before the incident. I think the crime issue in the city needs to be dealt with, but I wouldn't say it was the reason I left at all."

Zoom in: Amoaku says his most-missed dish is Vienna Beef hot dogs.

  • "For some reason they cannot get hot dogs right here."

Meanwhile, his favorite Chicago TV show is CBS' "Early Edition," about a guy who can read the future each day with a magical copy of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Amoaku noted his work as a teenage Sun-Times copy clerk "has a lot to do with it."
  • But we also discovered he got his first credited acting job on a 1997 episode of the show.
  • Full disclosure: Monica and Amoaku worked as copy clerks together.

The bottom line: Despite his fancy NYC credentials, Amoaku's heart remains here.

  • "South Side until I die," he proclaimed. "I'm still rocking my White Sox cap here even though they're trying to get me to switch it up for the Yankees. That will never happen."
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