Tyler Perry christens new studio with help of Oprah Winfrey, others


Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Tyler Perry officially christened his massive new film studio Saturday, beaming as his fellow entertainment industry luminaries descended on Atlanta and strode a red carpet to his sprawling complex for an opening gala.

The attendees warmly greeted Perry, a man who had once been homeless and yet now helmed his own studio, one of the nation’s largest.

“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,” Perry told The Associated Press as he shook hands with well-wishers.

And there were plenty there to congratulate him. Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Cicely Tyson, Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry and others all helped Perry christen his new facility, a 330-acre (134-hectare) studio that once served as a Confederate army base.

Winfrey praised Perry and told the AP the new studio head is a force to be reckoned with.

“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.

“I remember when he was thinking about buying this place and I said ‘You’d be crazy not to take it.’” she added.

Samuel L. Jackson pointed to Perry’s vision as the key to his ascent.

“This is more about Tyler the entrepreneur. The visionary. A guy who understands that ownership means that you can do what you want,” Jackson said as he paused along the red carpet.

Tyler Perry Studios has 12 soundstages, each named after seminal black actors and actresses.

Atlanta has come to be known as “Black Hollywood” because of Tyler Perry and this past weekend, he really made it happen.

The media mogul opened a 330-acre filming complex in the Fort McPherson area that drew just about every major African-American star.

A gala event Saturday, Oct. 5 included celebs such as Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, her husband Jay-Z, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, director Ava DuVernay, and so many others.

Naturally, there were plenty of Instagrams to mark the huge celebration for the $250 million studio.

“I am so grateful to have witnessed Black Excellence, History, and Greatness!” Kelly Rowland posted on photos showing her at the event. “The ground we stood on, the room! And EVERYTHING this Lot represents! I am humbled, inspired, and so encouraged! Thank You for being a force!”

The studio, which contains 12 sound stages named for esteemed black performers, was built on a site that served as a Confederate army base during the American Civil War.

Being surrounded by so much history and so many legendary stars moved Rowland’s fellow Destiny’s Child member Beyoncé, who also paid tribute to Perry on social media.

Perry became the first African-American to open his own studio in 2006, which was at another location in Atlanta.

Since then, Perry has become a noted actor, producer, and director, whose 20 films have grossed more than $900 million domestically.

The weekend included a Sunday service and brunch, which also drew a bevy of stars.

“Headed for a triple dose of inspiration this morning!” singer Michelle Williams, the third member of Destiny’s Child Instagrammed, showing off her Sunday best. “Still celebrating @tylerperry and the opening of @tylerperrystudios! It’s absolutely breathtaking!!”

But the new complex marks a major achievement for the man who started out as a struggling playwright who at times was homeless.