As the heartbeat of Laurel strengthens with new homes and businesses, media entrepreneur and "Dana's Lane" talk show host Dana Dayne offered her help to revitalize the city with a taping of her show July 6 at Aroma Cigar Lounge on Main Street.
The hour-long talk show focuses on the entertainment industry with celebrity interviews. The second episode features Hollywood actor Clifton Powell, well known for his role as Pinky in "Next Friday" and "Friday After Next."
Having previously worked with Laurel Aroma Cigar Lounge owner Sha'ron Lynn as a marketing and promoting consultant, Dayne said she decided to film her talk show's second episode in the area as a way of giving back to the business and the growing community.
"First of all, I love this place," Dayne said. "I think [filming here] is just a way to highlight this wonderful location. … Everybody would open their doors for me to do this, but I just feel like [Sha'ron and I] assist each other so much, so I'll do anything that I can do to bring business to her."
Dayne said the city of Laurel also brings "a hometown feel" to those who have lived in communities that are constantly on the move, such as D.C.
"Laurel is different," she said. "It gets you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It gets you away from the noise. … You can get the same type of experience here, but you can get more of a peace of mind and a beautiful setting."
Washington-based film company MalaCom Production was behind the scenes of the talk show on Monday. CEO Anthony Commodore said the taping location will add a certain flare to the city.
"First of all, it will wake up the community; a community that's probably been sleeping for quite a while," Commodore said. "When I used to come through here years ago, it was very quiet. I think the community does need a little waking up, a little notoriety, not just for this business, but for all the other great businesses on this strip."
Commodore said he is also finalizing plans to shoot his next "celebrity-based" feature film both in the cigar lounge and surrounding areas in Laurel.
"To have us come here is a huge thing," he said. "We don't just show up anywhere and start filming. If someone comes here because of us filming, and they see a lot of cameras, it draws more attention to the community itself."
"It brings a different clientele of people who can come on to Main Street," Lynn said. "I think that this can just be the start of what can be and what's going to be coming into Laurel."
The prolific Powell, who has appeared in many feature films and TV shows, including the Ray Charles biopic "Ray," the Eddie Murphy comedy "Norbit," and in an episode of "CSI," said his accomplishments as an actor allow him to help people and communities reach the same level of success.
"I think it's always nice to have people from the community come back on whatever level it is to help a lot of folks who have come out of the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area," Powell said. "When you get to a certain level of success, it's hard for you to stay connected to the community. I think it's a blessing to have instilled the philosophy of giving back."
With that type of thinking, Laurel City Council President Ed Ricks said Lynn's "bright and energetic" leadership offers "a service that not everyone sees," such as the film industry. While Baltimore and D.C. continue to serve as film and TV show locations, Ricks said Laurel is open to any opportunities.
"That's certainly something that we're very happy that we can collect money from that type of an industry," Ricks said. "[The city codes mention] we will get a certain tax from any type of a movie shoot that happens like that. We look forward to [Commodore] coming here."