LOS ANGELES, CA. January 06, 2019: Tyler Perry at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Picture: Paul Smith/Featureflash
Tyler Perry was honored Tuesday with his very own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Perry, most known for his Madea character, has literally turned the entertainment world upside down and done so in a way that would thrill even the likes of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. On Saturday Perry will welcome 800 guests to his 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios, to dedicate 12 new soundstages, each named for Black entertainers who’ve inspired the race. Perry owns his studio outright — there are no partners or corporations, Perry is the man.
Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington will be among Perry’s 800 guests this weekend. Black Hollywood’s elite are celebrating the fact that Perry is the first Black man to own a studio fully. Perry’s studio happens to be in Atlanta, not Los Angeles. As the Los Angeles times noted, “The complex is larger than Paramount, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney’s Burbank studios combined.” Black owned doesn’t mean smaller or inferior. Black owned means freedom — a freedom to create, express oneself unapologetically and control one’s own fate in life. Black owned means freedom to tell one’s story and liberty to create opportunities for your own.
Not only did Perry overcome poverty and several personal traumas to achieve success but he did it betting on Black people. Indeed, his Gospel centered stage plays were supported primarily by Black audiences, as were his early movies. In an age when even the most celebrated Black actors and actresses struggle to land roles, Perry has consistently and unapologetically hired Black men and women in his productions. Perry built his empire his way, on his own terms. This Saturday Perry will dedicate 12 soundstages, each named for a Black trailblazer in entertainment. Sidney Poitier, Della Reese and director John Singleton are among those who will be honored in perpetuity.
The freedom to honor a John Singleton is what Black owned means. The liberty to pursue the projects that you want to, the privilege to charge people to use your facilities to complete their projects, all of that is the meaning of Black owned. Love him or hate him, Tyler Perry is living out the principles of self determination and ownership that many Black leaders of the past taught us. Tyler Perry’s new honors are indeed worthy of acknowledgment.