Building Your Own Table: What Entertainers Need to Learn from Tyler Perry
With over fifty films, stage plays, and television shows up his sleeve, Tyler Perry is now a house-hold name and legendary icon throughout the nation. The 50-year-old New Orleans native is a producer, director, writer, and actor. He is known worldwide for creating and starring in his own movies. Perry wrote and produced several stages plays from the early 1990s and early 2000s. To name a few, Perry starred and produced in Madea’s Big Happy Family, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He created and performed a popular comedic character, Madea, who his audience adores.
Besides producing content for his projects, Perry acted in various Hollywood films such as Gone Girl, Alex Cross, Vice, etc. With credible acting experience in the industry, people would think that Perry always had it easy in Hollywood; however, that’s not the case.
While on tour promoting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, he revealed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his struggle in the entertainment industry.
“I had just moved to Atlanta to try to launch this play, so I went to work,” he said during his Tuskegee University commencement address. “I managed to save $12,000 and I put the show up working in a used car, as a bill collector (proceeds from a tax return). I thought 1,200 people would show up that weekend but only 30 showed up. My car payment, rent, everything was tied up in it so I ended up homeless with no money and nothing to my name.”
According to him, he faced a lot of rejection and failure when he initially started his career. He did not dwell on his misfortunes. Tyler decided to create a lane for himself. In 1990, Tyler left his hometown with his life savings and started writing and showcasing stage plays. Most of them failed woefully and received horrible reviews. However, he persisted, made corrections, and continued creating stage plays.
In 2006, with funds received from stage play ticket sales, Perry funded and produced his first movie ever, ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman.’ After the release of the film, he went on to relaunch a production studio in Atlanta, which he rebranded as ‘Tyler Perry Studios.’ TPS is responsible for creating and producing a few Hollywood favorite movies. Projects such as Black Panther and The Walking Dead have filmed there as well.
In a bid to evolve and build a bigger studio, Perry sold off his first studio. In 2015, he purchased 330-acres of Fort Mcpherson, once a confederate Army base, to open Tyler Perry Studios. It is the largest film production studio in the nation. Perry is the first African-American to outright own a major film production studio.
In 2019, he celebrated the grand opening of the newest Atlanta location. Inside of the studio dedicates 12 sound stages named after Tyler’s icons like Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, and Ossie Davis. The 300-acre studio also includes a hospital set, trailer park set, a retro diner, an airport terminal, a mock jumbo jet, and a replica of the real White House. Perry plans in the future is to build a 3,000-seater theater, backlots, a highway used for drag races/car chases, and plans to build a facility that services human trafficking victims.
Perry’s perseverance over the years is highly commendable and future entertainers can learn from what he achieved. Perry’s accomplishments teach people to accomplish anything they set their minds to regardless of background, color, and socioeconomic status. It shows individuals that no dream is too big, and always to dream higher also if there are adversities along the way. If faced with rejection, don’t give up, stay active, continue progressing, and create opportunities for yourself. Build a table and make turn dreams into reality.