The prolific actor, writer, director and producer of films and television series such as the “Madea” franchise and “The Haves and the Have Nots.” But inside the gates, Perry unveiled Tyler Perry Studios on Saturday at a black-tie gala.
Tyler Perry he said will celebrate not only his studio but the Hollywood figures like Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington who inspired him. It’s also, he said, a celebration of what the film industry in Georgia can be.
The $250 million studios is the only major film studio in the nation owned by an African American. It’s a crowning achievement for a once-struggling playwright who, more than 20 years ago, had been kicked out of his apartment and was living out of his car.
In a wide-ranging interview, Perry discussed the future of the studio and Georgia’s film industry, as well as threats to that industry — such as religious liberty legislation — he said could derail Hollywood’s growth in Georgia.
Perry said he plans to open his studio for tours for school children by next summer. He’s also planning an up to 3,000-seat Theater for concerts and other events. Frustrated by a lack of development outside his complex, Perry said he also plans restaurants and retail on the grounds of his studios, which he said he wants to become a weekend destination for tourists and the community.
He’s also discussed a centre to help victims of human trafficking on his land. All of it could be built, he said, in 36 months.
Perry’s studios started in a small building on Hoke Street and later took over what is now Krog Street Market before he bought a former church property near Greenbriar Mall. In a few years, he’d outgrown the Greenbriar site.
Perry bought land in Douglas County for his home and a studio, and in 2014, he said he informed then-Mayor Kasim Reed he was leaving Atlanta.
Reed pitched Perry on Fort McPherson, which closed in 2011, taking with it thousands of jobs.
The event was graced by the who and who in the film and theatre industry in Hollywood.
Among the A-listers who faced the cameras and bleachers full of fans included Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Andrew Young, Spike Lee, Cicely Tyson, Tiffany Haddish, Taraji P. Henson, Usher, Ludacris and Chris Tucker.
In a quick interview on the red carpet, Perry said this event isn’t just about him. Rather, he hopes what he has done will inspire others in the same way Oprah’s Legends Ball did for him in 2005.