Not Without the Daughter: Meet Liz Moss-Ohrberg

Cinemas Features

With four generations of Moss men at the helm, this tribute would nonetheless be incomplete without the female perspective on the family business. While Elizabeth Moss-Ohrberg is a partner financially in the Bow Tie enterprises, she is not involved “as part of the day-to-day running of the company.” Thankfully, she agreed to talk with Film Journal International about the job her father Charley Moss and brother Ben are doing, and whether she feels like she’s missing out in a men’s world.

“Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t,” Liz admits. “I have a lot of respect for my dad and my brother working together and doing what they do. I love to hear about the business. I love to be involved and talk to Ben and Charley. And they always do talk with me about what they are planning and working on…but I also like doing my own things,” she assures. Living in North Carolina, “I have my own separate existence from them,” Liz chuckles. “I do not feel like I am missing out by not being involved in the day-to-day, because that was my choice.”

Before making that choice, Liz Moss certainly got a good taste while growing up in a family that owned and operated movie theatres. “When we lived in New York during my younger years, I do not remember it being sort of a big deal at all. I remember having birthday parties at the theatre and things like that. When we had book fairs at school and other events, Dad would always provide popcorn from the theatres and there would be all those yellow bags of popcorn at our house. It is always cool to have a popcorn guy as your father, but when we moved to Colorado it was a much bigger thing. I was a freshman in high school when we built Movieland in Basalt. That was different because people knew who we were in such a small town. Here comes this family from New York and they are building a movie theatre…”

There was a certain element of intrigue too, she continues, as people are so interested in the movies. “And since I had a pass for the theatre, of course, I would be able to take tons of people with me. Instead of it being good for one or two guests, my dad made it out to ‘Liz and Friends.’ While that was fun, we were never, ever allowed to have free concessions, never. No free food ever. Movies, yes, but I had to pay for our drinks and our popcorn.”

Speaking of food, what was a typical conversation during a Moss family dinner like? Was it a lot of this-movie-should’ve-done-better? Liz says that part stayed at the door, in fact. “We were just typical at dinner time, talking about family stuff. I am sure there was some discussion of the industry, but I don’t think it was really all that prevalent.”

A most relevant memory to her was the opening of Movieland in Richmond, Virginia, just like it was for her father and brother. Amidst all those years of company history, Liz believes that “opening that theatre was really the beginning of the newer, modern part of the business. Converting that space into mixed use and how beautiful it was and how they conserved the history was truly amazing to me.” And although this is also the one Bow Tie cinema that is closest to her home, Movieland Richmond is still too far to attend “on a regular basis.” So where does she go to see a movie? And does she still get a pass?

“No, no, I do pay,” she says emphatically. “It’s funny, actually. I do not go to the movies all that much, which cracks my husband up. He always says, ‘You grew up in a movie family and you are not that into the movies.’ And he makes fun of me because I never saw Star Wars until I was in college,” Liz laughs. (For the record, Office Space “is so hilarious” and her “all-time favorite” film is Disney’s animated Cinderella.) “When I go to the movies I just find myself comparing the theatres to Bow Tie. So I will sit there and say, ‘In our theatres, we do this…and we do it that way.’ I do not have a favorite around here, we are very saturated in the Raleigh area with lots of movie theatres. So it just kind of depends on what we want to see. And, yes, we do pay,” she reiterates with just a touch of remembrances of things past. “I’m paying…”

As ShowEast is paying tribute to her father’s charitable work, Liz Moss-Ohrberg is “super-proud of him.” The Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award is a well-deserved honor, she believes. “Dad has taught me through the theatre business and with all that he has done for the greater community. He has taught me much about giving back and being charitable and taking care of others.”

“I am very proud of the history of the family and how far back all that goes, to my great-grandfather and my grandfather, and now my dad and my brother. I am super-proud of Ben too. The history of the whole family business is so interesting and important. Despite the fact that I am more of a silent partner, I too take a lot of pride in being a part of the family and being part of the business.”