Behind The Scenes: The Life And Times of June Amore
The text was plain, simple and unexpected.
"What are your goals?"
I stared at it for about thirty seconds, citrus dripping down my chin as I pondered what possessed June Amore to ask such a question first thing in the morning, and without warning.
Perhaps it was his innate psychological curiosity mixed with the keen desire to overstand the world and its inhabitants around him.
Today, I was his subject.
It was Amore's acute awareness about humanity that has aided him in his rising career in the entertainment industry. As a screenwriter, director, author, and now the CEO of his own entertainment company, the Westchester native was originally going to study both English and Psychology after high school.
"I'm interested in how people think," Amore said. "It also helps me figure out how to entertain them."
Contrary to his name, June Amore was born on July 11, 1994, making him a Cancer. Being one of the most creative zodiac signs, it is no surprise that the stars were aligned for Amore to pursue a career in which he could freely express his whimsical and creative abilities.
Amore's desire to be in the entertainment industry has been embedded in him ever since he was a child, with his passion for film and writing prominent. He also enjoyed performing comedic routines in high school, citing comedy as an outlet for early childhood bullying he endured for his weight.
"People liked that I could make them laugh," Amore said. "I also used to get teased a lot when I was younger so jokes were kind of an outlet for me. Plus, I was either going to win with jokes or with hands."
Along with substituting violence for giggles, the young Amore was also raising eyebrows in the classroom with his writing skills. Though he did not attend his English class often, his work surpassed those of his classmates, sparking his teacher's suspicions. Unnerved, Amore decided to prove himself, giving his skeptical instructor an ultimatum.
Amore let a small chuckle escape.
"My teacher said I was cheating, she didn't think I was writing what I was writing," the 25-year-old recounted, "so I challenged her. I told her I would write an essay on any topic right in front of her and the principal, and if I got a high score she would have to write me a letter of recommendation to college."
"And," Amore continued, "I damn sure got that letter. "
Aside from being born on the right calendar date, creativity seems to run in Amore's blood. An only child, Amore stated that while he grew up in a strict household, his father, who had eight other siblings, was the most creative of the clan.
While many of his father's brothers harbored impressive athletic abilities -" a majority of my dad's brothers were on the Sleepy Hollow High School track team with Bruce Jenner"- Wayne Effort was an inventor, having created the famous childhood wooden horse, Bibby the Wonder Horse, as well as an idea for a Muhammad Ali action figure back in the sixties.
Unfortunately, while Amore's father had the imagination, he lacked the business acumen, causing the elder to lose his patent for Bibby the Wonder Horse to a major toy powerhouse, a factor that prompted a young Amore to immerse himself into a sea of business books.
"While my father was creative, he wasn't exactly business savvy," Amore confided. "He didn't know that at the time, you had to renew the patent every ten years. That's why I read a lot of books."
Although Wayne Effort was not privy to the business world, he did help to influence his son's creative development, particularly when it came to movies.
"My dad always used to take me to the movies and he would ask me about the film we just saw," Amore said. "I would always say how I would have changed it and he would tell me not to tell him but to write it down."
The young entrepreneur also cited his father as one reason he strived to become his own boss, along with the relentless pursuit of his career.
"My dad always told me to never know how to lose," Amore recalled. "He said to always try to be your own boss. If someone can take something away from you, then it's not really yours."
While Amore was an avid writer, he also had an affinity for sports much like his father's family.
"I did basketball, football, boxing," he began. "I also did karate when I was younger and ended up getting my black belt around eight or nine. I just wanted to try everything and every time I did, I became good at it."
Then, tragedy struck when Amore was 16-years-old.
While Wayne Effort was on his way to see his son's basketball tournament, he slid on black ice and hit his head on the concrete. Amore's father then passed away three days later from his injuries.
Amore's voice was steady as he spoke.
"I never even saw his headstone. I never wanted to see it because in my mind he wasn't really gone. When I needed to hear his voice, I would call his number and listen to his voicemail."
"I stopped playing sports after that," Amore continued candidly. "I didn't have the eye of the tiger for them anymore. That's when I started writing a lot."
While Wayne Effort's death came as a shock to Amore, the 25-year-old did not let his passing deter him from his dreams in the entertainment industry, using his pain as motivation.
After high school, Amore and his mother moved to Florida, where he attended Tallahassee Community College, though he had hoped to attend Florida State University.
Amore also wanted to go to film school in Los Angeles, though did not have the funds to do so. Nevertheless, the Westchester native was determined to arm himself with the knowledge of the film industry by any means necessary.
"I called the LA Film School to get their syllabus so I could read their books," Amore said. "I even went on Instagram and reached out to kids going there and said I was going to be in their classes to get the syllabus."
This little white lie went a long way for the budding filmmaker, as he began to indulge himself in rigorous courses in film along with his college studies. By the time Amore moved back to New York, he was ready to embark on his journey to stardom, starting with an unexpected detour.
"I decided to do photography to get into the industry," Amore started. "It wasn't really my passion, I just saw it as a way in. [Famous directors] get sent scripts all the time, so I wanted to do something different while using my talents with the camera to my advantage."
Amore's training in Florida also helped him to stand out amongst his competition in New York, and was at one point "one of the top photographers in Westchester."
"I did a lot of studying and harnessed my talents in Florida," he said, "so I was able to take photos that people weren't really taking in New York, such as certain outside shots. I was also able to do photos for cheaper prices than other people could do and editing photos a lot faster too."
Soon enough, business began to flourish for Amore, enabling him to open his own studio, June Amore Productions, in Mount Vernon. As the young photographer's weekend schedule started to flood with clients, Amore realized he needed an extra pair of hands.
"I had so many clients, I had to hire another photographer," Amore stated. "I basically had a staff because I was booked every weekend."
Word about Amore's skills behind the camera soon reached the attention of HomeTown Heroes, a music event that featured both new and veteran talent at the time. The event granted the entrepreneur the opportunity to take action shots of rappers Maino, Don Q, and a then-upcoming A Boogie, with Amore's watermark brandished on each photo.
Rapper A Boogie. Photo by June Amore
Rapper Maino. Photo by June Amore.
HomeTown Heroes poster with rapper Don Q.
Despite reaching rapid success in a little under two years, Amore's true passion for writing came calling, prompting the 25-year-old to pack up his tripod and leave the world of photography while he was still in high demand.
"Some photographers are forced to leave because their photos aren't up to par anymore. But my passion for writing really came into fruition," Amore explained. "So, I did a June Amore Productions Farewell Tour, where I discounted photos, racked up a couple thousand, then took down everything."
"I consider everything a show," he continued. "I hate when people leave and just fall off, so if I want to leave, I'm going to leave on top. So with the Farewell Tour, I left on my own accord while still being in demand."
With photography behind him, Amore plunged into his career as a filmmaker and screenwriter and soon founded Now or Next Entertainment, the name deriving from Amore's desire to "bridge the gap between the past to the future" of entertainment.
Though Now or Next Entertainment initially solely focused on film, Amore decided to expand the company to include music as well.
"[Now or Next Entertainment] started as a movie company, but I had friends who were musicians and I saw their contracts," Amore explained. "They looked like slave contracts, and I couldn't help thinking that to be successful, you had to give away so much of yourself."
"Also, my movies need soundtracks," he continued, "so I'm giving them the platform and they provide me the music. One hand washes the other."
One of those hands will belong to multiplatinum record producer D Stackz, whose credits include A Boogie's 2016 debut mixtape, 'Artist,' and rapper Kodak Black's single 'Twenty 8' from his 2017 debut album 'Painting Pictures.'
Amore explained that he met D Stackz during a shoot with other upcoming artists, stating that while the record producer had notable hits, he felt he "didn't get his just due," and hoped to also use Now or Next Entertainment to help the producer regain his success.
The entrepreneur also planned to allow those who work with his company to be independent and to own their work, a benefit that Amore revealed not many artists get.
"People are so quick to take than they are to give," Amore said. "You have to spend money to make money, and I know I'll be taking a loss in the beginning. But I want my artists to be independent and still have their success."
"They can work with whoever they choose, I direct their music videos for free, and I'll allow them to keep more money than most labels," he went on. "Since [Now or Next Entertainment] isn't a record label but an entertainment company, there are loopholes we can pull."
Aside from having a multiplatinum producer on his team, Amore's screenwriting abilities got him a seat at the table with Netflix and Bravo, along with some of the industry's finest currently helping the filmmaker on his latest movie, 'Home Going.'
"It's about miscommunication, death, and other things that render relationships with people," Amore divulged. "It also focuses on trust issues. I got the idea from my father's funeral."
During the funeral, Amore said he jotted down notable events on the back of his father's funeral pamphlet -"a drunk guy ended up coming to the funeral -" and saved it. A few years later, Amore and his mother found themselves on the brink of eviction from their home. While sleeping in his truck, the 25-year-old came across his notes and immediately started writing the script for the film on his Ipad.
While the film is centered around serious topics, the overall premise will not be as dark, despite its bleak setting.
"It takes place at a funeral, but most funerals are known as homegoings because death isn't the last part of life," Amore explained, "it's a transition, hence the title. Funerals are supposed to be sad, but they can also bring out the unexpected."
With a star-studded team, recognition from top-tier studios, and a CEO title all under his belt at the mere age of 25, one would expect the entrepreneur to be quite pompous. However, Mr. Jeremiah Williams, Amore's legal advisor and close friend, said otherwise.
Mr. Williams, who has practiced law for seven years, has known Amore for the majority of his life.
"My godmother and his mom were best friends," Mr. Williams said. "So I've known him ever since he was little."
Although Mr. Williams and Amore have been friends for quite some time, it was the filmmaker's deep understanding of the industry that ultimately led the paralegal to help him with Now or Next Entertainment's legalities.
"I'm behind the paperwork and things, but [Amore] had everything mapped out," Mr. Williams marveled. "Not only is he well-informed about his own company, but he can literally breakdown other companies like Motown and Def Jam. He could tell you how they each started, how they thrived, how they jerked around other artists. He's just really prepared when it comes to [this industry]."
"As a business professional, that's a very impressive thing to have," the legal advisor continued. "To be able to understand the financial breakdown of the companies in the industry around you is very impressive. [Amore] also successfully forms strategies that weed out bad, frivolous deals that take advantage of people."
Mr. Williams also cited Amore's zealousness for his craft as well as his integrity as the main reason he wanted to help make Amore's dream come true.
"I give the sauce to the people who want to cook with it," Mr. Williams stated bluntly. "June is also very passionate and he cares about the people he works with. He understands that he can monetize from them, but he doesn't want to, he wants them to be recognized for their talents."
Mr. Williams then went on to praise Amore for how he handles adversity from those who are jealous of his rising success.
"June definitely dealt with jealousy, especially when he was first starting out as a photographer," he sighed. "Even some artists I was representing felt that because he was taking pictures at their events that they were the reason for his recognition, not really acknowledging his talents. His talents went beyond taking photos, he just used that to get his foot in the door. Even Maino used the photo he took of him as his Instagram profile picture for a while."
"But," Mr. Williams went on, "he uses opposition as leverage to make himself better, he doesn't take it personally. I think it helps him create all these different characters because he's able to use all those situations in his stories. Even when he looks at you and says you're a character, you might really be a character in his next movie. You might just be a crackhead."
As for Amore's work ethic, Mr. Williams stated that most of the time, he would "zone out" when in work mode. The entrepreneur also keeps at least two to three different phones on his person, one for each type of conversation.
"Ah man," he laughed, "he will completely zone out. He might not even answer his phone or anything, he's just very dedicated and focused when it comes to his work. He puts a lot of time into it."
In the end, Mr. Williams made it clear that Amore's intentions with Now or Next Entertainment were to not only benefit himself but those around him.
"A lot of the people that I worked with were just worried about how they can capitalize off the next person's dollar, but he isn't like that," he emphasized, "and that makes a very big difference. That's where June stands out."
When opportunity knocks, most people would answer it without question. For Amore, when opportunity knocks, he lets other people through the door.
"I want to create opportunities," the entrepreneur stated simply. "Some people just need a chance. There were some opportunities that I never had so I always just wanted to give them to the next generation."
Some of these opportunities Amore hopes to create with Now or Next Entertainment include scholarship programs, work studies, and internships, all geared toward developing young, aspiring talent.
While Amore desired to help shape the futures of young people in the industry, he also had his set of goals that prove that the sky really is the limit.
"I'd like to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and have a New York Times Bestseller all in the same year," the smile was evident in Amore's voice. "It's a tall order, but I'm going to keep pushing myself 'til I get there. I was always a person to aim high."
Albert Einstein once said that life is like a bicycle; to keep your balance, you must keep moving. It seems as though June Amore is the epitome of that quote, having maintained his own balance throughout life's unprecedented moments while offering his own words of wisdom along the way.
"Losing my dad, being on the brink of eviction, my mom losing her job, me not being able to find a job, me not having good family relations... I never let that faze me," Amore said. "Sometimes you gotta go through hell to see heaven."
The road to success is never a straight one, filled with bumps, cracks, and uncertainties. And that's just the road June Amore is not afraid to take.
"Don't be afraid to gamble on yourself," Amore said, "because you just might win."