Tyler Perry officially launched his historic film studio in Atlanta with a star-studded party a few weeks ago. Famous friends and celebrities like Oprah, Beyoncé, and Spike Lee were in attendance. The party was a celebration not just of Perry being the first African American to own a major studio but also a celebration of the possibilities the studio represents for black creators and audiences.
Tyler Perry Studios sits on 330 acres and rivals Hollywood in terms of production possibilities. In addition to a dozen large sound stages, there is a replica White House, a hospital set, a mock jumbo jet, an airport terminal, a trailer park, a suburban subdivision, a replica of a luxury hotel lobby, a huge mansion, a retro diner, and more. Soon, there will be a half-mile, six-lane highway for filming car chases. Perry also hopes to add a 3,000-seat theater. If that’s not a clear enough picture of the scope of Tyler Perry Studios, it’s bigger than the Burbank, California, lots owned by Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Studios, and Paramount combined. The production possibilities are enormous. The space has already been used to film some projects you may have heard of, like Black Panther.
The history of the location is close to Perry’s heart and vision. Once a Confederate Army base, the studio’s location feels like “poetic justice” to Perry. “There were Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million Negroes enslaved,” Perry said, “and now that land is owned by one Negro.”
Tyler Perry Studios will ultimately be a place of inclusion. Unlike the majority of sets Perry has been on, this will be a place of representation. A place “where everybody’s represented. LGBTQ’s represented. Black, white, gay, straight, whatever. We’re all represented, working hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm.”
But the scope of this mission goes even further. The studio will also be a safe haven for homeless women, displaced LGBTQ youth, and sex trafficking victims. The compound will give these people a safe place to live “where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient,” Perry told Gayle King. This part of Perry’s vision is deeply personal. In addition to feeling ignored by Hollywood despite his enormous output and success, Perry had a difficult childhood marred by abuse, homelessness, and a suicide attempt. Perry wants to help others in need until they can pay it forward too.