Years after Tyler Perry Studios was founded, the company’s namesake filmmaker opened the company property Saturday as a set of soundstages at a former Confederate army base.
“If I can build studios on this land that was once a confederate army base …” Perry said during an Oct. 5 dinner to laughter from the audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We all get to stand here equally — black, white, whatever — this is the American dream.”
That American dream comprises a 330-acre lot in Atlanta at the one-time Fort McPherson that is composed of 12 sound stages that are each named for icons of Black Hollywood. Among the stars who have namesake studios are Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry, Spike Lee and the late Diahann Carroll, to name a few.
Some of those who were honored with a soundstage were in attendance, like Berry.
“What he’s done here is so monumental, it’s so groundbreaking, it’s so important for our community — and at large, it’s important for people,” she told Access. “Because this is a home where we can get stories made, told by us, about us and we know Tyler is gonna make sure that happens. To have a stage here in my name is a huge honor.“
Whoopi Goldberg, who also has a sound stage named after her, questioned why it took so long for Perry to construct studios. Perry estimated to the Atlanta Business Chronicle that he invested a total of $250 million following his purchase of the property in 2015.
“Why did it take so long?” Goldberg said to THR. “Why was he the first to get it? Now he’s the man who makes the decisions, chooses the movies, and he doesn’t have to ask anybody for s–t. There’s nothing better than that. He’s never on his knees. He gets what he needs because he provided it.”
But it wasn’t just strictly actors who showed up. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Beyoncé and powerhouse Oprah Winfrey also showed up to the gala, with Bey bringing husband Jay-Z along and Winfrey making a rare appearance with longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham.
“He’s become a force for himself,” Winfrey told the AP. “I remember when he was thinking about buying this place and I said you’d be crazy not to take it.”
“It makes me so proud, so full, I could not stop crying,” said press-shy Bey on Instagram following the event. “Thank you my Virgo brother for so much love and passion put into every detail. My prayer today is that you will take it all in. You inspire me to dream even bigger.”