Entertainment mogul, Tyler Perry made history in the fall of 2019, when he became the first African American to build and outright own his own movie studio complex, appropriately named Tyler Perry Studios. His movie studio has 12 sound stages (each named after influential African Americans in the film industry) and sits on 330 acres of land that used to be Fort McPherson, a confederate stronghold. Perry spoke about the poetic justice of a black man now owning land that used to be an epicenter of oppression for black people. He explained how he was ignored by Hollywood for most of his career because he chose to make movies for African Americans, using his movies as a tool to uplift them. He said in an New York Times interview, “If I was a white man and had done these things, and had this success, they would have had a much different reaction to me. No one, black or white, has been able to do what I’ve been able to do,” he concluded.
Perry has gone from being the underdog to being the big dog, with no cosign from any of the other major movie studios. And while Hollywood may choose not to acknowledge his success, they know who he is and feel his presence in the industry. He found his power and took it to places many never imagined a black person would. Instead of complaining about not having a seat at the table, he built his own.
Perry serves as a powerful example for the rest of us, regardless of our racial background. We must stop focusing on being the small person in the room and tap into our strengths and find our power. This is what will make us larger. People may not initially respect you for your skin color, physical size or the number of employees you have, or the digits in your bank account, but they will come to respect that you stand behind what you are great at and have found a way to expand it.