Tyler Perry is a household name across the United States, but no more so than in Atlanta. Perry saw promise in A-Town when not many others did, making the city the backdrop for many of his plays, movies and other works. His influence can be seen and felt throughout the city. Ask any longtime Atlantan and they’ll agree – Tyler Perry is Atlanta. His studio at former Fort McPherson Army Base, which just recently opened, is poised to become one of the largest movie studios in the country. Find information on his studio, works and influence across Atlanta below.
History of Works
Tyler Perry began writing in his early 20s after being inspired by Oprah Winfrey. He began writing letters to himself as a form of therapy, which would later become the main theme of his musical I Know I’ve Been Changed. In fact, it was only after he moved to Atlanta in the early 1990s that he began an interest in stage. I Know I’ve Been Changed was his first production, which took the stage at a community theatre. Throughout the next eight years, Perry rewrote the play to perfection and performed it at the Atlanta House of Blues and Fox Theatre.
His success in playwriting allowed him to finance his first major movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He then began adapting some of his stage productions into film, including Madea’s Family Reunion, in which he writes, directs and stars in. The Madea franchise may be his most widely-known, but Perry has his hands in many other productions.
Perry produced his own television show, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. The show ran for six seasons and was focused on an African American family, reflecting his true-to-life fan following. The show even took place in Atlanta, echoing his love and dedication to the city. In fact, most of Perry’s films were shot and produced in Atlanta at Tyler Perry Studios, which opened in 2006. He also enjoys filming on location throughout downtown A-Town, which can be seen in many of the Madea films.
Tyler Perry’s Atlanta Influence
If filming at his Atlanta studios isn’t enough, Perry incorporates many iconic Atlanta spots and figures into his films. You can travel throughout the city to stop and see many of the same sights you’d see during a showing of a Madea movie on the big screen.
Tyler Perry Studios
Tyler Perry Studios originally opened in 2006 in Inman Park, later moving to an area in Greenbriar. Perry filmed most of his films in this space. In 2015, Perry announced plans to move his production company into the former Fort McPherson Army Base, a 30-acre lot that would put the studio on track to becoming one of the largest film studios in the nation. According to Perry, Black Panther was the first movie to use the site for filming. The film went on to become the third-highest grossing film in the U.S.
Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast
Twelve Oaks is a classic 1836 antebellum mansion considered to be a gem of the South. It’s a beloved piece of history for many Atlantans. In fact, author Margaret Mitchell loved the house so much that she believed it would be a great inspiration for Gone With the Wind. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion takes place primarily in Twelve Oaks, which is now open as an inn of eight rooms.
Also featured in Madea’s Family Reunion is Covington’s Gaither Plantation, which spotlights as the family home. The 159-year-old cotton plantation was once home to the Gaither family along with their 130 slaves. It stood on a whopping 875 acres in its heyday and remains as one of the few examples of mid-19th century farms in Georgia.
Perry wrote and starred in his 2011 film Good Deeds, which was filmed throughout Atlanta. The Atlantic Station shopping and dining complex was used as a filming location in many of the film’s scenes. The station is home to many local restaurants and popular events like movies on the lawn. Visitors can stand in Perry’s footsteps and still see remnants of the film.
The Haves and the Have Nots is Perry’s own soap opera, which is the most successful show on Oprah’s OWN. The show films extensively in Savannah and at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. It follows the lives of three very different families who deal with a wide range of problems in varying social statuses. Some episodes were filmed in downtown Canton in front of the 151 Main building.
Atlanta Movie Tours
Atlanta is becoming a true player in the American film industry. Tyler Perry Studios hopes to become one of the largest production studios in the U.S., competing with huge names in Los Angeles. The city sometimes showcases the studio in the popular Atlanta Movie Tours, which allows visitors and locals alike to view some of the city’s most famous movie filming spots.
The tour is focused on both African American history and film connections. Driving through Atlanta’s West End neighborhood gives guests a summary of Perry and his upbringing. Tourists can even stop and take pictures of his own private residence, which was used in many Madea films.