Fifty years ago, even the best psychic reader couldn’t have predicted that a black filmmaker could ever rise to Tyler Perry’s level of fame. Now Tyler Perry Studios is the first-ever movie lot owned by an African American.
And it’s one of the biggest movie lots in the world, too.
The 330-acre facility outside Atlanta, GA, is truly massive. In fact, it’s bigger than all the major lots owned by Disney, Paramount, and Warner Bros. in Burbank, California–combined!
It reportedly cost $250 million and features 12 separate sound stages–all of them named after black actors such as Will Smith and Denzel Washington.
Perry purchased the former Fort McPherson army base several years ago and has been building everything a filmmaker or TV producer could want–from a realistic trailer park to a replica of the White House.
Although the base was named for a Union officer, during the Civil War the land was a training ground for Confederate soldiers.
As he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “It’s incredible for this place to have this history and for me to own it. It’s really powerful … I hope this is an inspiration for everybody else.”
In an emotional interview with Gayle King on Sunday, Perry described how Hollywood had ignored him for years. Producers and critics alike–most of them white–dismissed his Madea films.
That attitude started to change when Precious, which he co-produced, was recognized with multiple Academy Awards. But he’s through trying to gain approval from the industry.
“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,” Perry said.
He encouraged “any doubters” to “just come take a visit and walk these streets, see these people, see these underdogs and you tell me what I do don’t matter.”
Tyler Perry told King that he created the movie studio in part to ensure that people who were ignored in Hollywood, like him, would have a voice in the filmmaking industry.
“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?'” Tyler said.
“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”
At least one high-profile guest was profoundly moved. Beyonce revealed that she “could not stop crying” at the opening gala.
She attended the gala alongside hubby Jay-Z, looking every inch the fashion icon she is. She wore a form-fitting, sparkly gold dress with massive diamond earrings while he rocked a classic tux with a bowtie.
“I could feel our ancestors’ presence,” Beyonce wrote on Instagram. “It makes me so proud, so full, I could not stop crying.”
The grand opening was a who’s who of black entertainers and media icons. The guest list included Oprah, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Halle Berry, and Maxine Waters, just to name a few.
Colin Kaepernick was on hand, as were Bill and Hillary Clinton.