Tyler Perry hosted the grand opening of his movie studios this week in Atlanta, Georgia, and made history in the process.
The Tyler Perry Studios are, simply, huge. At 330 acres with 12 sound stages, Perry’s lot is bigger than Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount’s studios in Burbank, California, combined.
The actor, writer, comedian and filmmaker made history with the opening of his studios, as the first black American to own a major film studio outright.
You can watch him talk to CBS This Morning’s Gayle King about it here:
Guests at the grand opening of the studios included Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson and Beyoncé.
However, despite the new studios, and the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame he just received, Perry believes Hollywood doesn’t ‘get’ him, and the industry ignores him and his work.
As he told CBS News:
I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure. And that’s fine. I get it.
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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Driving into work today I saw these signs on the highways being changed. My eyes filled with water knowing what God has allowed to happen in my life. Atlanta has truly been the promised land for me. I came here with nothing, lived off Sylvan Road, ended up homeless and starving, but I was always praying and believing. I was always keeping the faith, knowing that if I worked hard, did my absolute best, kept my integrity, honored every blessing, and remained grateful through it all that everything would work out. And it has, thank God. But to all of you looking at my life now, I want to share a scripture/prayer that helped me keep going from St. Mark 9:23-25. It's a simple prayer by a man who had faith, a man who believed, but still had doubts. He said, "LORD I believe but help my unbelief." Even in my darkest times when I wanted to give up, I kept believing, and I asked God to help me to believe past any naysayer, any doubt, and any problem. Just know that it is possible to believe in your dream and still wonder how or when it’s going to happen. Stay the course. Pray, work, believe and repeat. You’ll get there. Just believe for as much as you can, and ask God to help you believe for the rest!
King also mentioned, however, that Perry has been ‘criticised, in some cases, by your fellow colleagues,’ and asked whether building the huge studio was ‘validation’. To which Perry replied: ‘No. Not at all.’
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Ok, let me explain this photo. So I got a star today on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Thank you chamber!! I’m so grateful, but onto this photo. @only1crystalfox spoke and moved me. @kerrywashington spoke, and we both were in tears. Then @idriselba came up to speak, and they all were so powerful. I was so moved. To look out and see all the cast from all the shows that I have created made my heart so full. To be able to give opportunities to so many was just so humbling to me. Anyway, the photogs were asking for photos so at that moment the BEAUTIFUL KERRY WASHINGTON was leaving, and they all started snapping pictures of her!! Look at my face. We had such a good laugh about this. Thank you everyone for your support and love all these years. My Mamma would be so proud.
You know, if they get it, that’s great. If they don’t, I really feel it from the bottom of my heart, if they get it, great. If they don’t, then that’s fine, too.
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.
So, what I know about what I’m doing is, any doubters, 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.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.