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Hollywood stars came out in full force for the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. The red carpet buzz surrounded Perry’s history-making as the first African American actor/director/writer/producer to own a studio outright with no partners or corporate backing.

A-list stars including Viola Davis, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish and Stacey Abrams walked the carpet lined with walls adorned in roses and shared their admiration and support for Perry.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – OCTOBER 05: Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey attend Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios)

Tyler kicked off the reception by sharing a story of what inspired him to move to Atlanta in 1992. “I saw black people doing well for the first time in my life. I saw black doctors, lawyers and other professionals and thought, This is the promised land. I can make it here!” At the time Perry lived in a weekly hotel on Buford Highway. He also reflected on the influence of his mother and God in his life: “It was my mother who taught me about faith. No matter what hell was going on in the house, she taught me about faith and God,” he said. “Nobody is teaching kids enough about faith [today]. About how to pray your way through a situation rather than turning to drugs or some other alternative. If my mother hadn’t given me that, I don’t know where I would be.”

In a room of about 800 guests, Perry highlighted one special person in attendance who influenced him: Winfrey. “In 2005, Oprah invited me to her Legends Ball,” he revealed. “I saw Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Tom Cruise and Sidney Poitier, and I said, ‘What am I doing here?’ I didn’t know I said it out loud, but Yolanda Adams was sitting next to me and she said, ‘You belong here.’ By the end of the party I said, ‘I’m going to dream bigger.’ It was something about being in Oprah’s house, being in her presence, seeing what a black person had accomplished — it really, really spoke to me.”

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – OCTOBER 05: Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey attend Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios)

He told his audience of the impact he’d like to make at the studios’ grand opening. “If I can get you to leave this weekend feeling like I did that day, we’re going to change some major things in this world. Sometimes your dreams are on life support. You don’t know if you’ll make it, but being exposed to something bigger can give your dreams the life it needs,” he added.

“If I can build studios on this land that was once a confederate army base…” The crowd burst into applause, as Perry added, “We all get to stand here equally — black, white, whatever — this is the American dream.”

All guests were then given a tour of the 330-acre studio and each of the 12 soundstages, all named after iconic African American legends in the industry: Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belefonte, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Diahann Carroll.

After the walk through each stage, guests entered the final room filled with white roses for a candle-lit dinner that featured a mini-concert by Mary J. Blige for entertainment. Perry also orchestrated an impromptu performance with Tevin Campbell, Johnny Gill, Monica and Keith Washington.

As guests took to the dance floor, Haddish took over the DJ booth and spun beats to end the evening.

Here’s a tour of the studio:

 

By: Dammy Eneli

See Also: Tyler Perry Receives a Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

 

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