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Tyler Perry has built a bit of a showbiz empire in Atlanta over the past few years, but his love for TV and movie projects does extend past his own work. In fact, in a recent profile, the actor, writer, director and producer revealed he’s actually quite fond of The Greatest Showman. In fact, the 2017 musical movie has a particularly special meaning to Perry and he explained why in a recent interview.
In particular, Tyler Perry says the song “This is Me,” as sung by Keala Settle in the original movie, holds particularly special meaning for him. As he was named Variety’s Showman of the Year, Tyler Perry explained that song really reveals how he sees himself as a creative person. It’s also been important for him as he built his career in Atlanta to put himself out there as a showman of sorts.
Just to try and use what I’ve been given — this platform [and] the gifts that I’ve managed to have — to celebrate and encourage and lift other people, that feels pretty awesome. I keep hearing the lyrics from ‘This Is Me’ [from The Greatest Showman] in my head.
The distinction is one the mogul earned in 2020 after hitting billionaire status and absolutely crushing it with his new studio environment, which not only incorporates his own projects but also has become a prominent place for Black creators to make new shows and movies. In October of 2019, in fact, when he opened Tyler Perry Studios’ big filming center in Atlanta, Perry actually hired Morgan James to perform “This is Me” for a large crowd that included his mentor Oprah. So, it’s seemingly been his anthem for some time now and a song he holds near and dear to his heart.
It’s been a big rise for Tyler Perry in the critical sphere. The content creator has long been a success story and one who is loved by his fanbase, but he’s also been a creator who was often spurned by his peers. He’s talked in the past about being “ignored” by Hollywood. He had an outsider’s perspective on the industry when he came in and decades later he still seems to have that perspective.
I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure, and that’s fine. I get it. 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?’
But things are changing. Tyler Perry’s Atlanta studios were among the first to open amidst Covid restrictions. BET’s series Sistas was the first full TV season to be completed during 2020 using the full new bible of Covid-19 protocols. Quarantine bubbles and more have been used to keep shooting underway and business in production as usual. As projects flock to Atlanta, Tyler Perry's own brand and ability to shape Hollywood grows.
Moving into 2021, Tyler Perry is set to act in Taylor Sheridan’s new movie Those Who Wish Me Dead and he still has a bunch of writing and producing TV projects in the works from the aforementioned Sistas to The Oval. And perhaps if The Greatest Showman 2 ever gets off the ground, there may be a role for Mr. Perry in his possible dream project. One might as well have a million dreams, and Perry's proven over the years he can make dreams into reality.