Tyler Perry has made history, and not only for himself but for all people of color.
The Emmitt Perry Jr. better known as Tyler Perry opened a $900M production studio in Atlanta, Georgia. The site that was once a Confederate army base Fort McPherson, has been converted into a fully-fledged production studio. Speaking about the irony, Perry said during his BET speech, “[It] meant that there were Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million Negroes enslaved, and now that land is owned by one Negro. So while you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own.”
The production centered that sets on 330 acres features standing permanent sets, including a replica of a luxury hotel lobby, a White House replica, a 16,000-square-foot mansion, a mock cheap hotel, a trailer park set, and a real 1950s-style diner that was relocated from a town 100 miles away; it also hosts 12 soundstages named after highly accomplished African-Americans in the entertainment industry according to IndieWire.
The grand opening of the prestigious Tyler Perry Studios saw all of Black Hollywood converge on the grounds to celebrate a new chapter for African American culture and the development of the arts. Among some of the biggest names to attend the gala included Oprah Winfrey, Cecily Tyson Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Ava DuVarney, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Beyonce and Jay Z, Colin Kapernick, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and more.
EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg who was honored with a soundstage named in her, honor spoke about the moving moment, saying “Why did it take so long?” Whoopi Goldberg said in an interview. “Why was he the first to get it? Now he’s the man who makes the decisions, chooses the movies, and he doesn’t have to ask anybody for shit. There’s nothing better than that. He’s never on his knees. He gets what he needs because he provided it.”
Speaking about ownership of African American content, Tyler Perry noted, he hoped that more African American creatives find ways to adopt his proprietorship mantra. “If I see more of us own what we produce, and I’m in any way responsible for that, then I feel I would’ve done something,” he said. “That’s what Oprah did for me. And if I can do that for other people behind me, then I’ve done all I want to do, because that is what’s going to change this entire industry.”
Aside from the opening, Tyler Perry has joined forces with BET networks to supply content for the BET Plus streaming platform. Among some of the shows to air on the new platform include the highly anticipated ‘The Oval’, ‘Sistas’ and ‘Bigger’ as well as some fan favorites including ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’.
50-year-old Tyler Perry is best known for his contribution to African American culture through a series of successful productions including the Madea film franchise. Aside from being a producer and director, he has also starred in various films including playing Admiral Barnett in ‘Star Trek’ in 2009, the titular character in Alex Cross in 2012, Tanner Bolt in ‘Gone Girl’ in 2014, Baxter Stockman in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ in 2016 and Colin Powell in ‘Vice’ in 2018. He was recently honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.