A-list celebrities including Oprah, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Colin Kaepernick attended the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta’s historic district. Everyone gathered to celebrate Tyler Perry becoming the first Black entrepreneur to own a major movie studio without the backing of an established corporation. This could usher in a new era for Black entrepreneurship focused on self-sustainability, self-made independence, and alliance amongst Black entrepreneurs.
In a Bloomberg Markets interview, Perry spoke about the creative freedom afforded to him because of his self-made independence back in February 2018.
“So when I actually came to Hollywood and tried to do my first movie there and they were like, ‘Ah, what is this? We’re not doing this,'” Perry told Bloomberg Market’s David Westin. “I was like ‘Listen. I’m just going to go home and do it out of my trunk and, you know, sell it as DVD as I’ve been doing before.’”
A sure take-home message for Black entrepreneurs everywhere who face the all too familiar challenges of being rejected by investors who see no promise in their vision. The launch of Tyler Perry Studios could signal the start of a mainstream shift in the way Black entrepreneurs view the startup funding process.
In a heartfelt acceptance speech, Perry further drove home the importance of self-sustainability in Black entrepreneurship.
“While everybody was fighting for a seat at the table, talking about ‘Oscars so white, Oscars so white’ I said, ‘Y’all go ahead and do that but while you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own,’” Perry said in the speech.
His words reflect the plight of many Black entrepreneurs who are locked out of industries due to the lack of investor funding and also speaks to a potential solution. He goes on to speak to the audience of Black creators.
“There are people whose lives are tied into your dream, own your stuff, own your business, own your way,” Perry said.
The opening of Tyler Perry Studios is a turning point for an alliance among Black entrepreneurs and other Black leaders who hold influential platforms. Among the star-studded guest list U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters was also in attendance. The congresswoman has built her political career on standing up against the injustices of Black people and shows no signs of slowing down as she plans to support Perry from her seat in Congress.
In a celebratory letter, she wrote to Perry addressing her additional efforts to aid Black entrepreneurs via her development of the first Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion in the history of the U.S. Congress geared towards fighting for true diversity and inclusion in entertainment, media, and all other industries.
Perry himself has been vocal about the need for Black alliance in entrepreneurship and has made efforts to include Black talent in his work thus far.
“When I started hiring people like Taraji, and Viola Davis, and Idris Elba, they couldn’t get jobs in this town, but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them,” he told the BET awards audience.
He also signed a new deal with BET to aid in the goal of developing relationships with more Black scriptwriters and producers set forth by BET’s president, Scott Mills.