TYLER PERRY MAKES HISTORY, OPENS STUDIO IN ATLANTA
By Erin White
October 7, 2019
The wildest hodge-podge of Black celebrities, icons, and the Clintons all came out to Atlanta over the weekend to celebrate the opening of Tyler Perry Studios. A grand, 330-acre compound, Tyler Perry Studios rivals the size of Walt Disney Studios, Paramount, and Burbank’s Warner Bros. lot — not individually, but combined. The star-studded event celebrated not just Perry’s accomplishments as a filmmaker, but that of the first African-American to own a major film studio, honoring the blood, sweat, and tears of Black entertainers through the ages.
The landmark studio includes 12 soundstages — located on a former Confederate Army camp site — each named about icons of Black Hollywood. They are the late Diahann Carroll, Denzel Washington, Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Sydney Poitier, Della Reese, Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, and Will Smith.
But let’s get back to the attendees. Rubbing elbows with the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Oprah and Stedman Graham, were Ava Duvernay, Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Sid Williams, 2 Chainz and Wife Kesha Ward, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Colin Kaepernick and Nessa Diab, and even Lil’ Bow Wow received an invite.
Regardless of what any of our personal opinions of some of Tyler Perry’s films may be, he has broken down many barriers for Black people in the film industry. Sitting down with Gayle King after the historic opening of his studio, Perry called out the white Hollywood mainstream for largely ignoring his ambition, talent, and achievements. King asked, “Do you think Hollywood gets you?”
“No,” Perry replied. “I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure. And that’s fine. I get it.”
“Is that fine?”
“It is. My audience and the stories that I tell are African-American stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know, that I grew up with, and we speak a language. Hollywood doesn’t necessarily speak the language. A lot of critics don’t speak that language. So, to them, it’s like, ‘What is this? But 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.”
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Happy Sunday. Congratulations to Tyler Perry on the opening of his studios. I could feel our ancestors’ presence. Surrounded by my heroes, I watched Denzel, Queen Oprah, Spike, Whoopi, Sir Poitier, Will, Halle , Dame Cicely and our angels John Singleton and Diahann Carroll honored. The Armand de Brignac crashed against each soundstage as fireworks lit up the sky. Generations of blood, sweat and tears, success, excellence and brilliance. It makes me so proud, so full, I could not stop crying. Thank you my Virgo brother for so much love and passion put into every detail. My prayer today is that you will take it all in. You inspire me to dream even bigger.