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Comedian, actor Mike Epps visits West Side Leadership Academy in Gary

Photo caption: From l-r: Chelsea Whittington, Mike Epps and State Senator Eddie Melton meet with a local student during a break in the

Students enrolled in the Fine Arts program at West Side Leadership Academy had no idea that the Wednesday (September 6) rehearsal would soon turn into an impromptu performance for famed actor and comedian Mike Epps.

Indiana State Senator and Gary Mayoral candidate Eddie Melton escorted Epps on a tour of the city of Gary, Indiana and made it a point to bring Epps to the nationally recognized West Side Theater.

“I can remember coming to West Side as young as third grade for the MLK celebration,” recalled Melton. “I never would have imagined in a million years that I would one day become Indiana State Senator and soon the Mayor of Gary.”

Melton added that he wanted to show Epps the talents of Gary’s youth and the investment opportunities available to build on the city’s progress.

“I am honored and deeply humbled to have Mike Epps join us in Gary,” said Sen. Melton. “We know him best for his hilarious comedic flare, but there’s a side of Mike that resonates deeply with me and has been further revealed during today’s tour. We are both Indiana born and have a shared mission to see our communities and people thrive.”

Students gasped, screamed and were visibly excited as Epps appeared on stage. The Gary Community School Corporation leadership team and several school board members were also in attendance. After the students rendered a dance choral performance, Epps addressed them with words of encouragement. Epp’s tour of Gary also included stops in downtown Gary, Roosevelt High School, Buffington Harbor and Glen Park section of the city. The visit also offered an opportunity for Melton and Epps to reconnect and for Epps to learn more about the vision for Gary’s future.

“Gary, Indiana is a very beautiful city, and is resilient with a lot of potential.” Epps said during a post interview. “I would love to be a part of helping this city. When I go back to Hollywood, I am telling everyone to invest in Gary, Indiana.”

Epps, an Indianapolis native, is a stand-up comedian and actor. He memorably played “Day-Day” in Next Friday and its sequel, Friday After Next, and appeared in The Hangover and The Hangover Part III. He was the voice of the main character in Open Season 2 and was in the films Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction. Epps has had starring roles in the sitcoms Uncle Buck and The Upshaws.

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