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From Community Theatre to 330 Acres: Tyler Perry’s...

From Community Theatre to 330 Acres: Tyler Perry’s Excellence

tyler perry

Tyler Perry is a prominent figure of black excellence within the Black community and I want to state that first. However, I feel that his trajectory of success represents the phrase “it’s not where you start but how you finish,” that’s inclusive to people from all walks of life.

Tyler Perry has done the possible (intentionally said): he became the first Black owner of the largest film studio in the United States of AMERICA—much emphasis on America. You see the reason I say possible is because to say what Tyler Perry did was impossible is to believe what he did could not have ever been done. Better yet be attainable for a person of color. But it’s 2019, the year a Black woman became the first to receive a doctorate in computer science from Purdue University. The year a Black woman won her 100th US Open. The year a Black student was elected Yale’s student government president. The year a Black women was the first African-American elected Maryland’s Speaker of the House. The floodgate of firsts is open in this 21st century and let us not be concerned when it’ll began to close.

Let’s be real: Tyler Perry is a household name and if you haven’t heard of him you need to check your house (age and geographic location are my only exceptions). Do you know what all it takes to become a household name off merit alone? Not because you found yourself the star of a viral video or juicy scandal—sorry Monica Lewinsky but I’m name dropping you only to make a point (check out her TedTalk discussing public-shaming)—but because you worked your ass off. Yes, Tyler Perry worked his ass off to get to the point where he could open a 330-acres film studio on what used to be Fort McPherson.

What do you want first? The background of Fort McPherson or how Tyler worked his ass off?

I feel like Fort McPherson is the foreground to Tyler’s background, so I’m making executive decision to go with that first. Start your own blog and you can write in whatever order you want okuuurtt.

cardi b okur

Located in southwest Atlanta, Fort McPherson (East Point, GA area) was one of the most important military bases in the US. Before Fort McPherson was named after Major General James McPherson in 1885, the 487 acres served as training grounds for local militias prior to the Civil War. In 1861, the Confederacy took over the land after Georgia’s secession building barracks and a cartridge factory during the Civil War. Between 1867 and 1881 the land was garrisoned (stationed troops) by the 2nd, 16th and 18th US Infantry Regiments and the 5th Artillery army and was originally named McPherson Barracks.

The base closed and buildings sold at a public auction in 1881; The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary used part of the land later becoming Spelman College.

In 1885, the army purchased land for a new post and in 1889 McPherson Barracks became McPherson Fort. 

During the Spanish-American War, Fort McPherson played a huge role as a recruiting and training center and saw an influx in troops. Eventually, the post served as a hospital after a typhoid outbreak.

During WWI, Fort McPherson served as German prisoners of war camp, General Hospital No. 6, and an officer training camp.

Fast forward to 2005, the government officially announced a closure of the base under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) law with the last stationed troops leaving in 2011.

So now that you know the significance of Fort McPherson, let’s get to how Tyler worked his ass off.

Imagine writing, directing, and producing 20 stage plays, 17 movies, 7 TV shows, AND building a 330-acres film studio with 12 sound stages to only feel Hollywood has ignored how hard you worked your ass off. Tyler has grossed over a billion dollars in ticket sales from his productions. Although Tyler expressed coming to terms with being ignored by Hollywood, he’s not alone. For years Hollywood (especially the six major film studios) have been accused of racial segregation in film devoting the talent, budget, and resources to films with all-white casts. Remember when the #Oscarssowhite started trending for Jada & Will Smith set off a boycott of the awards show for lack of diversity?

The attention imbalance shown to minority films is the subject in the book “Hollywood Jim Crow” by Maryanna Erigha (UGA alum stand up!) Her experience at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival sparked the idea to research racial biases in the film industry. And you know Spike Lee stay calling out Hollywood for the representation of Blacks in film. Cues Issa Rae “I’m rooting for everybody black.” 2017 Emmys comment.

The question of whether the name “Tyler Perry” holds any weight in Hollywood is one Tyler isn’t waiting around for the answer. Why wait for a seat at the table when you can build your own damn film studio? Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Black Panther (grossed over 1.3 billion worldwide), was the first film shot at Tyler Perry Studios.

Tyler Perry Studios resume is already more impressive than my actual resume.

You ever read someone’s story and got a tingly feeling as if just by reading their rags-to-riches story you felt empowered? That’s what it felt like reading about how Tyler spent his savings of $12,000 to produce his first play “I Know I’ve Been Changed” in a 200-seat theatre in Atlanta. The play didn’t get the anticipated outcome and shortly afterwards Tyler became homeless living out of his car.

Fast forward to today, Tyler’s net worth is $600 million. The grand opening of his studios included a Black Hollywood star-studded guest list: Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Denzel Washington, Beyonce, Ava DuVernay,  Spike Lee, Jay Z, Stacey Abrams and it’s just WAY TOO MANY TO KEEP LISTING. Damn, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall or a napkin on the dinner table. The only person missing was me. I have the perfect I’m-around-rich-Black-people-so-I’ll-blend-in dress.

Tyler Perry closed the curtains on his Madea performances, but he’s just getting started colorizing the major movie studios monopoly. Can you say 330 acres and a mule?

Kay


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