Tyler Perry on creating his own studio: ‘I’m ignored in Hollywood’

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I am always energized by people who create things, especially when they do it to claim space for themselves. Tyler Perry is one of those creative powerhouses. He recently told Gayle King that he is “ignored in Hollywood.” His solution? Launch his own studio, which had its grand opening celebration this past weekend:

Tyler Perry is a history-making media mogul, but he says he understands why Hollywood doesn’t treat him as such.

“I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure,” Perry told Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” in an interview that aired Tuesday. “And that’s fine. I get it.”

Tyler Perry Studios, one of the largest in existence, opened last weekend in Atlanta.

The 330-acre complex contains 12 sound stages and is reportedly larger than the Burbank, California, lots owned by Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios and Paramount studios combined. . . .

The actor/director/producer, who opened his first own studio in 2006, is the first African-American to own a major studio outright.

[From CNN]

Tyler told Gayle, “My audience and the stories that I tell are African-American, stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know, that I grew up with, and we speak a language.”

CNN reports that his studio is on part of the decommissioned Fort McPherson, which Tyler purchased four years ago.

DListed has a recap of the opening celebration, and it sounds like it was pretty epic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, stars including Viola Davis, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish and Stacey Abrams were there to celebrate. DListed also reported that the Clintons and Spike Lee (who once beefed with Tyler) were there, too.

The studio has a replica of Medea’s house and the White House, which Tyler built for his BET series, The Oval. The Chicago Crusader has even more pictures of the (jaw-dropping) sets. They include courtrooms, a Southern mansion and historic district, a prison yard, and courtrooms. Each of the 12 sound stages is named for an iconic African-American artist: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Diahann Carroll.

This is so amazing. Tyler commented to Gayle, “Every black person that comes to work here, they go, “Oh, my God, it’s heaven. Here we are. We’re represented.” I think it’s fantastic that Tyler has been able to build his own studio so that he’ll be able to make the movies that he wants to make while providing opportunities for African-Americans both behind and in front of the camera. I’m angry that he’s been ignored by Hollywood, which doesn’t “get” the work that Tyler is trying to do, telling the stories of African-Americans, but I think that his solution of creating his own studio was a genius way to claim his space as a filmmaker and to have complete freedom with his projects.

Update by Celebitchy: Here’s a video from inside the party. It looks amazing!!

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63 Responses to “Tyler Perry on creating his own studio: ‘I’m ignored in Hollywood’”

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  1. Kittycat says:

    I’m happy to see Tyler Perry succeed but his movies are crap.

    • Keekee says:

      Yeah even some African Americans think they are ignorant portrayals.

      • Grey says:

        I’m one. Perry has some obvious colorism going on in his movies – dark man bad, light man good! And the Medea character is insulting to black women.

      • LWT00 says:

        THIS. I’m happy for his success and hope it paves the way for others like it but can’t stand his movies or POV.

    • runcmc says:

      The movies may not be for you, but I don’t think they’re crap. Personally I don’t like his comedy, but his dramatic films have brought me to tears on multiple occasions. He’s an amazing writer and actor, and people reduce him to just the Madea character.

      • Celebitchy says:

        I get a lot of judgment for running a gossip blog but people enjoy gossip and there’s a call for it and I’m proud of what we’ve built. That’s how I feel about the Madea movies, which I’ve found funny honestly. Just because you don’t like it or it’s not your thing doesn’t mean he hasn’t built a great franchise. -edit- run obviously I’m not directly addressing you and we agree!

      • HK9 says:

        Yes-his drama is great. And the nice thing about Madea is it’s something that the whole family can watch. As for Hollywood-they turn out crap on the regular so, then there’s that. He’s doing what anyone else in the industry is doing and unlike the rest of the industry, it’s helping the careers of the actors he uses so more power to him.

      • Dawn says:

        I have loved everything Tyler Perry has made so far. I am sure I have not seen everything yet. I am so glad he is making a place for himself. Not everyone is going to conform to what everyone thinks that the person should be and make them an outcast. He has talent and he needs to be able to show that talent. I am white, and the shows I have watched of his, I have come away with learning not to judge and accept people no matter what. He just does it in a comedic way, to me it is a way of bringing up hard issues and trying to open others mind and eyes. Just my take on it.

      • stepup says:

        The problem is that Tyler Perry’s movies are rife with sexism. But hey, y’all do you.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoaTIGeeJ78

      • antipodean says:

        @Celebitchy, it upsets me to hear that people have the nerve to judge you for “running a gossip site”. If these critics truly new the breadth and depth of what you do they would be ashamed that they have such a negative opinion of the “social service” you provide. You are absolutely right to be proud of what you have built. I know that I, and literally thousands of others, come here every day for a fun and balanced view of many different aspects of our crazy world. The standard of your, and your fellow colleagues’, writing is par excellence, and you do it six days a week without fail! Never let any misinformed ignoramus diminish what you do. Us Celebitches are profoundly grateful to you to have a welcoming forum to participate in the discussions of the day, and to be exposed to the many and various opinions that are expressed here.

      • tw says:

        @celebitchy, agreed. I would add that gossip or silly comedies are a retreat. This is the only gossip site I read, often during a lull in a very serious, intense professional work day. And most of what is covered here is not frivolous. What’s interesting is that I find myself reading the comments more than the actual posts. There is a real time interaction between people from all over, and all fields, engaging in social and political debate.

      • Celebitchy says:

        Thanks @antipodean and @tw I wasn’t fishing but I’ll take it!

      • Wrinken says:

        I agree about the straight comedies like “Boo I&II” weren’t that funny, but the dramas tell stories of redemption, forgiveness and unconditional love. And those will never go out of style. Continue to shine bright, Tyler.

    • Marisse says:

      Tyler Perry is also VERY anti-union and often doesn’t comply with SAG.

      • Christina says:

        The non-union stance doesn’t surprise me. Everyone in movies seems like that when they are producing.

      • LWT00 says:

        Did not know this. Really terrible if true.

      • Marisse says:

        @christina

        Not at all – most producers follow union rules on major productions. Perry has always benefited from working vulnerable ppl he hires who dont have union protection.

        At the of the day, Tyler Perry is all about the bottomline & not doing the right thing.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      They really are crap. I hope Shonda Rhimes opens her own studio.

  2. DaisySharp says:

    This is so exciting.

  3. Elsie says:

    Good for him. One can only make a finite amount of Madea movies in which Hollywood would be interested, this is so true.

  4. Mina says:

    id Like to think better of black people thank believe they find the gross misogyny and homophobia of Madea to be the height of comedy, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

    How nice of Perry to pump millions into the economy of a state repressing women as well. Huzzah!

    • notpretentious says:

      Though those themes are portrayed in his movies, usually the narrative is around defeating them. He shows how people succeed in spite of these things. I live in Georgia, and I think he is from Georgia too. His power will grow and I think he can help effect change here.

      • Mina says:

        What exactly makes you think a black man who makes Christian-lite movies is going to do ANYTHING to fight for women’s reproductive rights in Georgia? Besides giving the state hundreds of millions of dollars and show them their policies will still drive big business?

      • tealily says:

        He’s originally from New Orleans, but I don’t know. He may have spent some time in Georgia too.

    • notpretentious says:

      Honestly, you have a point about the Christian themes. However, I don’t know much about his political leanings, but I would think that he would not stand for the suppression of women’s rights. Since he is from a historically oppressed group, but who knows.

      • Mina says:

        Waaaaaaaait, you think minorities automatically support other minorities? I really hope you’re white, otherwise how could you be so dense? Black Christians are the biggest peddlers of homophobia. White gay men are the biggest peddlers of misogyny. Marginalized groups absolutely do NOT automatically support other marginalized groups.

    • Marisse says:

      AMEN

      I personally think people like Jordan Peele, Lena Waithe, Ava Duvernay, Barry Jenkins, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, etc. have done more for black people in the entertainment industry & black representation than Tyler Perry has. I can’t help but think of that crude, racist comment in an email from the Sony Hack, mocking ‘black films’ = Tyler Perry-like movies – a total pigeonholing.

      I also have a suspicion Tyler Perry isn’t pro-choice, which might have factored into his indifference towards the Georgia boycott

  5. runcmc says:

    You know, I was going to make a nuanced comment about how I wish his story was more inclusive of non-African American blacks (so, Afro-Latino immigrants like myself). But the comments are already trashing Tyler Perry for making movies his audience loves so now I’m just gonna say GOOD FOR HIM and I hope he makes a thousand Madea movies and hires a hundred thousand black voices to join with his.

  6. STRIPE says:

    The studio also houses room for LGBT youth and trafficked women. Congratulations to him!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Good for him. Not a fan of the Madea movies but I’ve seen a couple of his movies that I liked a lot. I hope the studio is another successful venture for him.

  8. Jade says:

    Thanks for the video! I’m happy for him and wish him success.

  9. Jerusha says:

    I’ve never seen a Medea film, but I’ve seen Tyler Perry acting in other films and he’s been excellent in them. And what he’s doing with his Medea money is to be applauded. Good for him!
    I look forward to the films coming out of his studio.
    And I’ll just add this. I was a H.S. Librarian for 40 years. Thanks to the NCLB bumfuzzle of the Bush years we had test after test after test for Juniors and Seniors. That meant the Rest of the school shut down while testing was going on and Freshmen and Sophomores sat in Homeroom for 3 or 4 or 5 hours at a time. The Medea movies got a real workout during those dead times and the kids loved them.

  10. Lizzie says:

    it doesn’t matter what anyone here thinks of his movies, if you can’t admit that him creating this studio is an incredible achievement – there’s no hope. he has lifted himself up through the industry and brought hundreds of black actors and crew members with him. it is so admirable.

    • lucy2 says:

      This – I know a lot of people don’t like his movies, for many reasons, but this is an amazing accomplishment, and like you said, he’s employed a LOT of people, mostly those ignored by Hollywood, over the years. And rather than just buying a big yacht or another mansion, he’s putting his money into creating more work, and more jobs.
      Plus the housing and opportunities for at risk youth and others is fantastic.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I’ve never seen any of his movies but this is an out of this world achievement & one to be lauded.

  11. CROWHOOD says:

    Yikes wow. So many snarky and shitty comments here. A person built something huge that is dedicated towards creation. In this day and age, where representation matters more than ever and when all we are building is walls, how can you not see the value in this?

  12. Canadiangirl says:

    What an achievement!!!

    And for those of you who can’t get over his terrible Madea movies, look around and notice all the horrible crap that’s out there by all kinds of black, white, Asian, Hispanic actors made in various studios. Perry gets typecast for his Madea movies, but clearly he’s moving on to bigger and better things. This coming from a person who doesn’t have an opinion on him tbh and wouldn’t be caught dead watching a Madea movie. Just observing a person who has his eyes on the prize and setting out to make a huge difference. Good for him!

  13. Mar says:

    His movies are really cheesy but he has his niche for sure though. I’m happy to see a successful black man in Hollywood.

  14. Veronica S. says:

    He gets his foot in the door, and he’ll likely pave the way for others. Perry has always been somebody I don’t think you have to worry about pulling the ladder up behind him. I think this is inarguably a good thing regardless of how you feel about his early work.

  15. Lisabella says:

    I stopped caring about him when he starred in his role live in Los Angeles before his films came out. His “character” talked crap about Muslims – which was totally unnecessary.

  16. Lala11_7 says:

    All I know…is that residential area around his studio which is almost 100% working class Black folks…the rents have gone up damn near $100.00 in the last (60) days…which means…pretty soon…those Black folks will be priced out of their homes…ONCE AGAIN…

    So…there’s that…

    • Christina says:

      He produced plays in LA in the 1990s, and my girlfriends and I would go because his were the only plays in LA that we knew of produced, directed, and acted by Black people. We grew up in Compton and Watts. The stereotypes bothered me, and the themes were simplistic, but he always had characters that were more like us, too, and his characters inhabited a world we knew filled with imperfect people. His characters navigated world’s we knew whether or not we agreed with how that world was. Those characters DO exist in real life, and that’s why he has so many fans. People are complicated, and I think that Perry is showing a side that many of us want to fix.

      He used that money he made in LA, giving us representations we were starving for, to make the Medea movies. The Madea movies are problematic, but he is representing a world that exists, and he’s created art that is more nuanced since that time, but white Hollywood wasn’t going to give him a chance to create nuanced stories. He has a Christian point of view that many communities follow whether or not I agree. I don’t agree with all of the perspectives represented, but I see what he is trying to do, and many of the main characters in his movies are women navigating hard issues.

    • tealily says:

      This says more about the problems with capitalism than Tyler Perry, but it still sucks.

      I live in a place with a highly speculative real estate market, and these sorts of bumps in prices don’t always stick, but I guess time will tell.

  17. Cee says:

    This sounds exciting and awesome!

  18. ME says:

    I think this is pretty amazing. Good for him.

  19. TheOriginalMia says:

    This was THE event of the year in Atlanta, and we had the SuperBowl this year. The sheer amount of star power over at Fort Mac was staggering. Add in the Hip-Hop awards and Atlanta was rocking.

    I’m so proud of Tyler. My cousins knew him when he was first creating Medea plays and he hasn’t changed one bit. This studio will do wonders for black talent in front of and behind the camera, who have been denied the opportunities in Hollywood.

  20. Dal says:

    Sometimes his movies can be corny but end of the day most teach a lesson so I don’t mind watching. Madea can be hilarious

  21. lucy2 says:

    After looking at the set photos, I have a question – is it typical to build that stuff out on its own, and not for an upcoming project? They built a White House, a courtroom, a historic neighborhood, a trailer park, and various other sets, but I always assumed stuff like that got built for a specific project, and then reused when possible?

    • Algernon says:

      Yes. Studio backlots are filled with various “permanent” settings like town squares, city alleys, parks, suburbia blocks. Paramount ranch that burned down in the wildfires was the Old West town used in hundreds of movies and TV shows. I forget who has it, but there is a White House set which is the White House set used by everyone shooting anything set in the White House. Tyler Perry built his own White House so he won’t have to compete for stage time if he needs it, which is smart. Some things are built and reused, but you know you’re always going to need staples like courtroom sets and city streets.

    • Mo says:

      My guess is that he knows exactly what those sets will be used for, even if it isn’t for a while. Also, you probably want to build those big standing sets before opening, cheaper to have a big crew doing it all at once and you don’t have to deal with construction noise and traffic during production.

      • Algernon says:

        Also he can rent them to productions when he’s not using them for his own movies. He’s clearly built this studio to compete with Pinewood Atlanta.

      • Mo says:

        Probably not compete as much as take advantage of the local labor pool. Richard Florida wrote about cities becoming creatively competitive and he noted that you need at least two big employers in the same industry, so that people know they can find work if they lose their job. Also, he is probably seeing lots of black talent moving to Atlanta and he figures he can pull a Roger Corman and hire them for cheap before they move on to Hollywood (or union) productions.

  22. Nancypants says:

    We love Tyler and Madea and we especially like the following: Madea’s Christmas, Madea’s Witness Protection, BOO and BOO 2, Family Funeral …

    Spoiler alert:

    At one point, Tyler said he was going to kill off Madea and enough people were, “NO!!!!” that I guess he let her live.

    We haven’t enjoyed all his films but we like several and I know the African-American community (including Spike Lee) have given him sh*t for portraying them badly but Tyler had a very, very bad upbringing and I think he writes based on that upbringing just as most writers do.
    The Color Purple caught a lot of crap too.
    Also, there are a lot of comedy movies I think are just bad and not funny at all so, to each her own.

    I’m happy for Tyler. He overcame a lot to be wildly successful and that studio he built is on a former confederate army base.
    What goes ’round, man.

    I’m not sure he is overlooked by Hollywood but he’d know better than I and he just got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but I’ve always understood that was more about who you know and paying for it. I could be wrong.

    Anyway, LONG LIVE MADEA AND THE FAMILY!!!

  23. Chimney says:

    Good for him! I am a fan of anyone who uplifts African American actors and work. Hollywood is so regressive, usually the black people they center are foreign-born blacks or of mixed race. That all is fine but there’s this whole swath of American culture that’s being ignored (or denigrated) I’m glad he’s thriving

    To anyone who has beef with his Madea films, if Adam Sandler is allowed to become shockingly rich over silly movies then so can Tyler Perry.

  24. Algernon says:

    I don’t know if Hollywood ignores Tyler Perry. He is cast consistently in other people’s projects, they tried to make him a franchise star. He just built his own production hub from the very beginning and gave Hollywood very little chance to support him or not. He’s been independent from the first. Given the success of the first Madea movie, had he chose to set up his shingle under a studio banner, he would have had his pick of deals and perks. Instead, he chose to invest in himself and open his own production company independently. What he’s built is incredible, and admirable, and he will pay his success forward for generations. He saw how things work and made it work for him. I don’t think that’s the same thing as being ignored.

  25. Bc says:

    This is so beautiful , that just like Beyonce said on instagram, it brought a tear to my eyes too because i think that unless you are a minority, especially a minority in America, you wouldnt really appreciate what it takes to not only break glass ceilings in an oppressive system when you have a history of slavery behind you but to also do so with the support of your people. As Tyler said, the studio was built by black dollars. Black people who watched and supported his creative work. Add that to the fact that its very hard for a black man to succeed in America (how long did it take to get a black president???)…and youll realize that theres so much WORSE that a black man can do than starting a powerhouse creative studio and in the process, create jobs for thousands of black people. He is the American dream personified and i am proud of him. As Diahann Caroll once said, if they do mot invite you to the party, throw your own party. And hes doing it. I will support him in my own little ways by going to the theatre should his films make their way to my hometown. All i know is minorities are always complaining about representation and well, here it is, at last. A chance to see ourselves on the screen.

    As for his themes, i think of so so so many movies out there which portray women and minorities really badly. Or relegate the black character to a supporting role. Or the black character is the fat female friend. Or the black character is some drug dealer. You know the tropes. I just watched Joker and the themes were very very disturbing, i wish i had read the previews beforehand and im SO glad i didnt go with the kids, because it was horrifying. Im saying, yes SOME Madea moves may be problematic in that they are full of stereotypes but im also saying so many of you bashing him will go watch and praise tv shows and movies by Hollywood that are just as equally degrading and problematic to minorities and yet have the audacity to bash Tyler.

    I wish Tyler luck. I just hope he gets better writers now. What used to upset me was when he would write all of his movies and so they would seem repetitive and boring. A wide variety of writers provide a different view point and help to greatly develop a character.

  26. kerwood says:

    I’m not a fan of Tyler Perry but that clip made me cry. I might have issues with what he does but I am PROUD to see a Black man succeed on his own merits.

    The United States is celebrating the 100 year anniversaries of several incidents where African-American communities were destroyed and countless Black men, women and children were murdered. Their biggest crime was being TOO successful, doing too well for themselves and their communities.

    I’m glad that Black Hollywood came out to support him, especially Spike Lee, who has spent his entire career raising funds for his films. This studio will make it easier for Black filmmakers to tell the stories about Black people without having to beg. And the next time some movie executive says that Black movies don’t make money, they should visit that former Confederate army barracks and see for themselves.

    And on a side note: I want to say thank you to @Celebitchy for providing this place and this community. I’m very grateful.

  27. Kebbie says:

    I’m not all that familiar with his work, I’ve only seen him in Gone Girl (and he was fantastic), but I’m happy for him. If his work has included offensive stuff in the past, well, he wouldn’t be alone in that. A lot of comedies from even a few years ago fail to hold up today. Society is progressing and he should be given the opportunity to progress with it.

    As far as him putting it in Georgia, he’ll have a lot of economic weight and power to throw around. Hopefully he’ll use that to make positive changes. He has built a successful empire in an industry that wasn’t built for him to succeed. It seems like he wants to pay it forward.

  28. Flying fish says:

    Go Tyler.

  29. MariaS says:

    I’m torn. It’s great to see a Black man create space for himself, he employs lots of Black actors, and he tells stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told. BUT. Tyler Perry HATES black women. The educated, ambitious black women in his movies that dare to want anything more than the broke Christian man before them dies, gets HIV/AIDS, or ends up alone and bitter. It’s something he needs to work through in therapy because it’s disturbing.

  30. j says:

    He is ignored by Hollywood, proved by this late, lackluster post and commentary. The opening of this studio, is a huge story to Black people and a highpoint in our narrative, but it showed up on this feed today. The way Black Hollywood came out and the way he honored our unsung artist was magnificent, history and deserved several separate, successive post. He’s done far more than his humble Madea beginnings and that growth is obvious. He snuck in the back door and created a studio and vision large enough to fit all the Hollywood studios inside of it. On Confederate land to boot (such poetic justice) But, we are no longer asking and begging for a seat at measly tables, we are creators and we are creating tables. Checkmate bitches.

  31. Hildog says:

    How tf is he ignored in Hollywood? He makes so much $ and he always stars, produces, directs etc… his own movies. I would argue he is wrongfully and obnoxiously acknowledged in Hollywood 🙄

  32. dreamchild says:

    So so proud of Tyler Perry! That’s all.