Tyler Perry Studios’ Grand Opening Inspires Me and Many Others to Keep the Faith
Last weekend, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of participating in the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios. The theme of the weekend was “Imagine This”, and the vision of each event provided a glimpse into the creative and imaginative mind of the visionary that is Mr. Tyler Perry.
This was a historic and monumental event, as Mr. Perry is the first African-American to own his own television and film studio. The invitation-only roster for the Tyler Perry Studio’s grand opening included the who’s who in Hollywood, CEOs, executives, and industry influencers from multiple arenas outside of the arts and entertainment industry.
On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Mr. Perry held an opening gala on the 330-acre property that makes up Tyler Perry Studios – which includes man-made sets for most, if not all of his television shows and movies.
A Blessed Opportunity to Be in the Room
I participated in this gala as a member of The SEEiT Choir, a corporate performance choir with gospel roots, under the direction of Mr. Greg Kirkland, Jr. Our assignment for that evening was to accompany singers Morgan James and Ledisi, while singing “This is Me” (from the movie “The Greatest Showman”), and Andra Day’s “Rise Up”, respectively. We would sing atop a moving float that would lead invited guests down a red carpet between soundstages that were unveiled for the first time to the public and to the honorees who were present. We were accompanied by an all-star band that evening that was led by Musical Director, Mr. Rickey Minor, and included world-renown drummer, John Roberts, and other accomplished and celebrated musicians.
There were 12 soundstages that were unveiled that evening, all of which were named after legendary African-American actors, actresses, and directors who have made undeniable accomplishments in the entertainment industry. The honorees included: Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Della Reese, Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, John Singleton, Halle Berry, and Will Smith. All of the living honorees, with the exception of Harry Belafonte, were in attendance to christen their soundstages by breaking a bottle of champagne against the building. After a compilation of their greatest work played on a screen attached to the building, fireworks lit the sky after each soundstage’s unveiling.
At the end of the unveiling of the soundstages, Mr. Perry presented actors and actresses with their own stars, similar to those on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which were permanently embedded into a distinct area outside of the Oprah Winfrey Soundstage. Many of the honored celebrities got their start with Tyler Perry Studios and have since progressed and developed reputable careers within the entertainment industry. After this unveiling of stars on the Walk of Fame, all of the guests attended a private dinner inside the Oprah Winfrey Soundstage.
Few Words Can Describe the Beauty of Tyler Perry Studios’ Grand Opening
On a personal note, I have to add that this first night was incredible and left me speechless. As we were atop the float singing and I looked out into the crowd, all I could see was a sea of famous faces looking at us, singing along, and dancing to the music in celebration. Right in front of us were Tyler Perry and his family, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Jennifer Hudson (who had just finished singing “The Impossible Dream” at gala dinner that was held prior to the red carpet walk and unveiling of the soundstages), Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child, Chris Tucker and so many others.
Other guests who were sighted on Saturday night included: Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mary Mary, Bishop Paul Morton, Sr., Pastor Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, and a host of other notable celebrities and public figures. The energy in the crowd was electric, and excitement could be felt in the air from everyone present. Each soundstage was lit up with multiple colored lights, and those lights, along with fireworks going off against the black, night sky above a wide red carpet with over 800 guests and a floating stage – it all seemed like a grand finale scene from a movie. The astonishing visual aesthetics of this live scene was simply mouth-dropping.
A Time of Praise and Worship
On Sunday, October 6, 2019, Mr. Perry had a “Glory to Glory” Gospel Brunch. The brunch was held in a massive, white tent that had been beautifully and majestically decorated for the two events that would be taking place that day within that setting: 1) a church service and 2) a brunch that would follow afterward.
The church was recreated to look like the church from the movie, “The Color Purple”. There were roughly 850 guests in attendance, many of whom had also attended the previous night’s opening gala. Guests whom I sighted during this event were President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Lynn Whitfield, Jennifer Lewis, Anthony Anderson, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Tucker, Lance Gross, Michael Jai White, J. Bolin, Jermaine Dupri, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Gabrielle Sidibe, Anita Baker, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Tyrese.
At the start of the church service, a church bell rang and The SEEiT Choir processed out of a building across the street from the man-made church (still on the grounds of Tyler Perry Studios), surprising the invited guests who had gathered in the courtyard outside of the church. It was an ode to the classic scene in “The Color Purple” in which the character Shug Avery led a crowd from the juke joint where she was singing to her father’s church where the church service had just begun and the choir was singing.
Our line processed into the church singing the opening lyrics from “God Is Trying to Tell You Something”, led by singers Tasha Page-House and Rhonda Chambers of the Mississippi Mass Choir. As we marched through the crowd singing, we were surrounded by famous faces in close proximity with smiles on their faces, singing and swaying along to the music, and recording the moment on their camera phones.
On a personal note, I want to add that this moment was a manifestation of a prophetic word that had been spoken over my life a few years ago. He prophesied to me and said, ‘Woman of God, God wants me to let you know that where God is taking you, you cannot be afraid of their faces”. At the time this prophetic word was spoken to me, I could not fathom, conceive, or imagine its meaning. It simply did not make sense to me at that point in my life. However, at that moment, I was reminded of that prophetic word as I was in close proximity to Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker, Whoopi Goldberg, Jermaine Dupri, and others, and I had to stay calm and remain unfazed by their faces, in order to remain focused on my assignment – To minister to these souls, not their celebrity status, through song and usher the presence of God into this church service.
Once inside the church, we sang gospel songs that had been hand-picked by Mr. Perry for this occasion. Each song had a very significant meaning to him; the songs either encouraged, uplifted, or inspired him throughout his journey to do what God created him to do.
For this event, The SEEiT Choir had the honor of singing with multiple gospel artists, including Bishop Paul Morton, Sr., Pastor Shirley Caesar, Vanessa Bell-Armstrong, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Yolanda Adams. The Clark Sisters and Pastor Smokie Norful also rendered selections during the church service. In the midst of all the celebrities, industry influencers, and dignitaries in the room, the Spirit was high and the presence of God was there. We worshipped, glorified, and praised God – we had CHURCH!
To top everything off, the pastor of the hour was none other than Bishop T.D. Jakes, who gave a very relevant, timely, and powerful sermon on “A Fresh Start”.
If God Can Do It For Tyler Perry…
After the culmination of Tyler Perry Studios’ grand opening, I left feeling inspired, in shock and awe, and overwhelmed by the faithfulness and goodness of God. I am a witness that God will allow “your gifts to make room for you and bring you into the presence of great men” (Proverbs 18:16).
After being a part of the Tyler Perry Studio’s grand opening, I have been re-ignited to walk in my own God-given purpose and destiny. The dreamer and visionary in me have been reawakened, and I am more determined to refuse to settle for anything less than what God has ordained for my life, in every aspect of my life.
My mindset and perspective have shifted, and I’m determined that if God did all of that for Mr. Tyler Perry, then SURELY He can bring to pass the big and seemingly impossible dreams that He has placed within me to change the world. For it is written in God’s Word that: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
All glory to God, and many thanks to Mr. Tyler Perry, Greg Kirkland, Jr. and The SEEiT Choir for a memorable and life-changing experience that I will never forget.
May we all be reminded that God has no respect of persons – if God showed Himself faithful to the promise He gave others, don’t you think for one second that the promise He gave you will not come to pass. God remains faithful to His Word.