Gayle King Interviews This Superstar Who Says He’s ‘Ignored in Hollywood’
CBS This Morning’s Gayle King continues to land coveted interviews. From her groundbreaking sit-down with singer R. Kelly, who is facing allegations of sexual abuse, to her conversations with political headliners including former First Lady Michelle Obama, and ‘The Squad’ (Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts), King is the journalist that celebs are turning to to share their stories.
Recently talking to music icon Tina Turner and rising star Lil Nas X, King also just spoke with a celebrity who’s an actor, playwright, filmmaker, comedian, and now movie studio owner. Despite his success, this superstar feels he’s basically “ignored in Hollywood.”
Inspired by Oprah
According to IMDb, Tyler Perry was born in 1969 in New Orleans where he was raised by his parents, and has talked about suffering at the hands of his abusive father. As an adult, he was inspired by an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that discussed the therapeutic benefits of writing. Taking the cue, Perry began writing letters to himself where he began to work through the pain of his past. He turned those letters into “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” a play about domestic abuse. It wasn’t until a second attempt at staging his play that it became a hit in 1998.
Perry went on to produce another play – a 1999 adaptation of “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” by T.D. Jakes, which grossed more than $5 million in five months as reported by Britannica. With his career taking off, Perry created his now legendary character Madea in his 2000 play I Can Do Bad All by Myself, later starting the film franchise in 2009.
Serving as actor, director, and writer on various films including 2010’s Why Did I Get Married Too? And 2014’s The Single Mom’s Club, Perry also moved into the television space, creating shows for Oprah Winfrey’s network OWN.
A historic achievement
Perry just made history this past weekend, becoming the first black American to own a major film studio. Located in the heart of Atlanta, Tyler Perry Studios boasts 330 acres with 12 sound stages, making it bigger than the Burbank, California lots owned by Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Studios and Paramount combined, according to CBS News.
Hollywood heavyweights including Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Will Smith, and Viola Davis were in attendance at the studio’s grand opening.
Perry spoke to King on the significance of achieving this dream. “I know for a fact that when I drive in through these gates, onto this 330 acres and see these 12 sound stages, and see the highway sign that says ‘Tyler Perry Studios’ as you’re making to the exit in here, as I come in here and I see these hundreds of people working, these black and brown – I’ve been on sets where I’ve been the only black face on, only black face, as recently as 2019 going, ‘Where are the black people in this movie?’ Back behind the camera?” Perry shared.
The director is celebrating the diversity that is represented at his studio. “So, when I come to work here and every black person that comes to work here they go, ‘Oh my God, it’s heaven. Here we are. We’re represented,'” Perry said. “Where everybody’s represented. LGBTQ’s represented. Black, white, gay, straight, whatever. We’re all represented, working hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm.”
Focusing on the audience rather than Hollywood
When King asked Perry if he thinks Hollywood ‘gets’ him, the studio owner had a definitive reply. “I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure. And that’s fine. I get it,” he said. “My audience and the stories that I tell are African-American stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know, that I grew up, and we speak a language. Hollywood doesn’t necessarily speak the language. A lot of critics don’t speak that language. So, to them, it’s like, ‘What is this?’”
Despite negativity from critics and some colleagues that Perry’s intention in building his empire is to finally receive validation, he emphatically disagrees. “I know what I do is important. I know what I do touches millions of people around the world,” he told King. “I know how important every word, every joke, every laugh [is]. I know what that does for the people where I come from and the people that I’m writing for… You know, if they get it, that’s great. If they don’t, I really feel it from the bottom of my heart, if they get it, great. If they don’t, then that’s fine, too.”
Perry did pose a challenge to any naysayers, suggesting, “Any doubters, just come take a visit and walk these streets, see these people, see these underdogs and you tell me what I do don’t matter.”
For more information on Perry’s latest groundbreaking achievement, go to Tyler Perry Studios.