Tyler Perry is leading the way when it comes to Black people building power in the entertainment industry and his latest venture is history in the making.
According to CBS News, Perry hosted a grand opening for his massive Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta this past weekend. The film complex covers 330 acres and includes 12 sound stages. It’s actually larger than the Burbank, California lots owned by Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros and Paramount combined.
If that isn’t news enough, Perry is the first Black American to own a major film studio, period.
Celebrity attendees for the grand opening included Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé and Spike Lee. Perry went on to say that despite Hollywood not getting him, “I know what I do is important. I know what I do touches millions of people around the world. I know how important every word, every joke, every laugh [is]. I know what that does for the people where I come from and the people that I’m writing for. So, yeah, I get that.”
Perry is the creative behind 22 movies, 20 plays and eight TV shows. All of his work has led to this moment. He explained:
“I know for a fact that when I drive in through these gates, onto this 330 acres and see these 12 sound stages, and see the highway sign that says ‘Tyler Perry Studios’ as you’re making to the exit in here, as I come in here and I see these hundreds of people working, these black and brown – I’ve been on sets where I’ve been the only black face on, only black face, as recently as 2019 going, ‘Where are the black people in this movie?’ Back behind the camera? So, when I come to work here and every black person that comes to work here they go, ‘Oh my God, it’s heaven. Here we are. We’re represented.’ Where everybody’s represented. LGBTQ’s represented. Black, white, gay, straight, whatever. We’re all represented, working hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm.”
Tyler Perry Studios was built on part of Fort McPherson military base, which was once used by the Confederate army. Perry called it “poetic justice” that his Black-owned studio is now housed on land that was once used to uphold slavery.
The 12 sound stages at Tyler Perry Studios are each named after seminal Black actors and actresses including Cicely Tyson and the recently deceased Diahann Carroll. Included with the 12 sound stages is a full-on replica of The White House where Perry shoots his upcoming BET show “The Oval”.
Perry says this is only the beginning for his historical studio. He also told Gayle King in his “CBS This Morning” interview, “I tell you what I’m most excited about next is that pulling this next phase off is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced and having a compound that is a beautiful place, right here somewhere on these 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient, they live in nice apartments, there’s daycare, there’s all these wonderful things that allows them to reenter society and then pay it forward again.”