Tyler Perry acquired his 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios back in 2015, and since then, he’s gone on to create hundreds of TV shows, films and other content under his production house. At the dawn of him acquiring the lot, he buried bibles underneath the sound stages “as a way of refocusing the spirit of the place.”
Perry opened up to AARP The Magazine about the early days of Tyler Perry Studios, what it was like for the company to settle into its new home, and how he was originally haunted by the space’s dark past.
“The land itself was once a Confederate Army base, which meant there were people here fighting to keep my ancestors enslaved,” he told AARP. “From the moment I walked onto the property, I was haunted by it. So, as we built each of the 12 soundstages, we buried Bibles underneath them, as a way of refocusing the spirit of the place. I wanted this to be a place where everyone was welcome.”
Now, Tyler Perry Studios means so much to so many people. They’ve managed to put out content that’s changing Hollywood and honoring Black experiences.
“I brought scripted material to the network with the crime-drama series The Haves and the Have Nots. It ran for eight seasons and is still the highest-rated show that was ever on the channel. For Oprah and me, it was important to show Black people that you can work together, that powers can come together and be successful,” Perry said.
And Perry is proud of providing experiences with his studio.
“Thousands of people come through the gate every day to work here. And it’s a beautiful thing. A lot of them are former prisoners who wouldn’t have had this shot,” he said.
While talking to AARP, Perry also discussed feeling “survivor’s guilt” for escaping a difficult childhood.
“I have some survivor’s guilt about that, because there are a lot of people I went to school with who did not make it, who ended up in prison, who ended up murdered, especially during the time of the crack cocaine infusion into America,” he said. “I credit my getting out to my mother, my aunts, my grandmother — all these incredible women who prayed and taught me things and believed in me. Had I not had their examples and their straight-up backbone — their insistence that I make something of myself — I don’t know where I’d be.”
According to People, Perry’s highly anticipated drama, A Jazzman’s Blues, comes out on Netflix on Sept. 23.