BY: ISAIAH WASHINGTON
Media magnate Tyler Perry made history with the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, becoming the first African-American to independently own a major motion picture studio.
The actor, writer, director, and producer procured the $30 million needed to invest in his Herculean vision from his distending rolodex of eight TV shows, 22 movies, and 20 stage play tours. The "Madea" architect says that he is indebted to the black community for its indefatigable patronage, coveting for Hollywood to cognize the "power of the black dollar."
The studio is situated on a 330-acre plot of land, making it larger than the amalgamation of Disney, Warners Bros., Paramount, and Sony Studios. The green expanse of his property is festooned with a baseball field, vintage diner, trailer park, mansion, prison yard, and replica of the White House (for his political soap opera The Oval).
There are politics embedded in the studio's location as it formerly was the Fort McPherson Army base, a Confederate center for choreographing insurrectionist attacks to preserve the institution of slavery. "Think about the poetic justice in that," Perry telegraphs, "The Confederate Army is fighting to keep Negroes enslaved in America, fighting, strategy, planning on this very ground. And now this very ground is owned by me."
On "this very ground," pioneering black entertainers are concretized in the framework of American history with Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Denzel Washington, John Singleton, Spike Lee, Sir Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, Halle Berry, Della Reese, Will Smith, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee being proffered soundstages in their honor.
Perry's most stratospheric enterprise was his recasting of the role as homeless, sexual abuse victim to Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree. The multihypenate has wedded his tenacious hold on his ambitions to his peerless work ethic, "Nobody in Hollywood believes that I'm sitting around and writing seven series by myself," he stated. "I have no writer's room because nobody else is writing anything. I'm writing everything. There's nobody else directing any of the shows. I'm on set directing every show. That's so rare for the town. They can't even wrap their brains around it. On these TV shows, they shoot three, four or five pages a day. I'm shooting 90 pages a day."
A litany of prolific luminaries came out in droves to uplift Perry and his accomplishments during the studio's opening gala on Oct. 4 including BeyoncÃ© and Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, Ava DuVernay, former President Bill Clinton and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, Samuel L. Jackson, Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Gayle King. Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Morgan James, and Ledisi performed to commemorate the historic night.
The location is more than a studio to Perry. Tyler Perry Studios serves a cornerstone of the community. The "next phase" for his reliquary "is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced...where they're trained in the business and they become self-sufficient. They live in nice apartments. There's daycare. There's all of these wonderful things that allows them to reenter society. And then pay it forward again."
Furthermore, the former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams divulged via Twitter that the next Democratic presidential debate will be held at Tyler Perry Studios on Nov. 20. Many media executants have been pulling out of the Peach State in response to its "heartbeat" bill which proscribes most abortions. While upbraiding the polarizing abortion measure, Perry maintains that Atlanta is "the promised land" for him, a perennial investment.
Tyler Perry Studios has begun hosting events like the Atlanta Concours d'Elegance, an occasion trumpeting modern and antique vehicles.
The polymath is leaving a blueprint for future media moguls, engendering a collaborative setting on a perpetual reminder of the gravity of liberty and self-liberation.