On land that used to be a confederate army base where whites fought to keep blacks enslaved in Atlanta stands one of the biggest film studios in American history fully owned and financed by a black man.
Tyler Perry threw a star-studded party to commemorate the opening of his $250 million film studio in Atlanta on Saturday.
The event showcased the best of black Hollywood guests, including Perry’s mentor and friend Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Jill Scott, Whoopi Goldberg, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Cecily Tyson, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He said at the party, “If I can build studios on this land that was once a confederate army base…”
The crowd burst into applause, given the history behind the land used for the studios.
Perry added, “We all get to stand here equally — black, white, whatever — this is the American dream.”
Perry said he owes his success to God and his mother for keeping his dream alive and making them a reality.
He began his career as a playwright, actor and director but it hadn’t always been easy for him. At a point, he had to sleep in his car and now he owns a multifaceted studio, a great feat worthy of admiration.
In his 2019 BET Awards acceptance speech, he said, “When I built my studio, [it was in the] poorest Black neighborhood in Atlanta so the kids can see that a Black man did that, and they can too.”
Knowing how hard it was and still is for black actors to book auditions and get roles, he added, “What it means is that I get an opportunity to pass it on to people. I get to share it. I get to inspire people and encourage them. That is what it’s all about.”
He also reiterated that it was a “God-given” opportunity to open his own studios, THWR writes.
According to his website, the 330-acre land for the studio was acquired in 2015 and has 12 fully furnished sound stages for movie productions.
As part of moves to honor black people who have made notable strides in Hollywood, Perry named the sound studios after the following Legends of Black Hollywood; Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belefonte, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Will Smith.
The others are Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Diahann Carroll.
Speaking to the Associated Press about the studio opening, Oprah Winfrey praised Perry for paving the way for all underdogs and not waiting for an opportunity to impact people but creating one of his own.
“He didn’t wait for other people to validate or to say you should go this way, or that way. He said: ‘I’m going to create my own way,’ and as we can see here, become a force for himself,” Winfrey said.
Samuel L. Jackson was also full of praises for Perry, who was once mocked for trying to revive and push stage plays back into Hollywood. He said, “This is more about Tyler the entrepreneur. The visionary. A guy who understands that ownership means that you can do what you want.”
Tyler Perry always gave upcoming black actors a shot in his movies and plays. Owning a studio now gives him the chance to open wider doors for many people.
He told AP, “I think it’s pivotal in everything that we’ve done, everything that we’re doing still, that we continue to try to motivate and inspire people.”
The cocktail soiree for the studio opening had performances from Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and an improvised performance from Perry himself.
Many guests were in attendance, including Viola Davis, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Usher, David and Tamela Mann, and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The others were T.D. Jakes, Jennifer Lewis, Byron Allen (Weather Channel owner), Tika Sumpter and many more.