Kelley alumnus forges a unique path to success
March 17, 2015
From center court to center stage, Marcus May knows how to bring audiences to their feet.
The former Jaguar basketball player spent his college days in the spotlight. Today, May finds success behind the scenes as a screenwriter and playwright.
"The best part for me, as a basketball player and now writer and director, is entertaining people," said May, who earned his marketing degree from the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI in 2003.
Not the typical businessman, May works full-time at JP Morgan Chase in Indianapolis while running his own film and theatre production company, MayDay Productions. The self-proclaimed "banker by day and filmmaker by night" has produced award-winning short films. May is now taking his talent from the screen to the stage.
"Sacrifice," May's first play, sold out two shows when it premiered in October at the Theatre on the Square in Indianapolis. The upcoming encore performance at Pike Performing Arts, a larger venue, is an exciting opportunity for May to share his play's underlying message of respect with more people, he explains.
A story about two families co-existing in a city townhouse, "Sacrifice" focuses on the subtleties of racism. May said he hopes the audience will take away an understanding that people are not defined by race, but are "all part of the human race."
Though this is May's first play, telling gripping stories about the human experience is old hat for him. “Unfamiliar Paintings,” his most successful film receiving recognition at independent film festivals and featured on BET Television, is a tale of a graffiti artist trying to validate his art in an academic setting and escape the challenging lifestyle of his neighborhood in the Bronx. May also produced and co-directed "Repercussion," a film that chronicles two women's experiences living with HIV.
"I was always fascinated by movies as a child. I loved the idea of taking the stories I wrote and bringing them to life up on a screen," May said. "Since I don't always have the facility to create films, I realized that writing and directing plays allowed me to do all the creativity I longed for in a film."
May always had a passion for film, even through many twists and turns in his college career. Before transferring to IUPUI in 2001, he pursued chemical engineering and played basketball at Wright State University. His athletic commitments began to take a toll on his academics, and May decided he was ready to switch his major to film. A conversation with his parents left May convinced that a degree in marketing would be more respectable. Though business was not a direct path to film, May credits Kelley for preparing him for any career.
"The Kelley School of Business prepared me to be a producer, which is nothing more than being a savvy business professional and doing what it takes to get the job done," May said. "One of the most valuable skills Kelley taught me was time management. This is a big part of being a great producer, a great businessperson, and just a great individual."
Regardless of his degree or corporate job, May will never stop pursuing his dream career in film. He offers students facing the woes of declaring a major this piece of advice:
"Stick to your dreams. Stick to what you want to do, because your dreams are your dreams. Don’t let anyone dictate you."
The Indianapolis native continues to boast his Jaguar pride, attending as many basketball games as he can, serving on the Kelley Young Alumni Council board, and speaking to high school students about the opportunities available to them at IUPUI. May hasn’t lost touch with his love for basketball either, coaching his daughter’s basketball team. May is set to premiere his first comedy in August and plans to write more plays in the near future.