Nobody and we mean nobody, throws a party like Tyler Perry. Hip Hollywood was in the house for the star-studded opening of his ground-breaking new Tyler Perry Studios.
When Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams hit the carpet together, we thought interesting, then Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Lawson showed up just minutes later, and people began to dream the dream. Would there be a Destiny’s Child reunion?
Think about it, an event this big, would have been the perfect time, and somebody like Tyler could pull it off.
It all seemed so perfect, especially after Beyoncé and Jay-z popped up inside the party. It didn’t happen but just the possibility sent a buzz through the place.
The night started with a cocktail hour on one of the new soundstage’s that would later be dedicated to the late Director John Singleton. Tyler welcomed everyone with a funny, reflective and inspiring speech explaining why he built the studio, and how his dream is everyone’s dream. Once he finished, he asked everyone to turn around and on the stage behind us stood Jennifer Hudson in a beautiful, red, flowing gown.
The song choice was directly in line with Tyler’s message, “Impossible Dream.”
And as she sang, the doors to the soundstage opened to reveal a massive red carpet that ran the length of what they call the runway. The massive parking area in between the twelve soundstages. It was an awe-inspiring sight to see the stages illuminated and glowing in the night as Jennifer sang the lyrics to “Impossible Dream”.
Tyler promised that he would take us to church and that he did. Sunday’s service raised the roof and the holy spirit was all over the house. Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, The Clarke Sisters, moved the congregation with their voices, and TD Jakes delivered a sermon for the ages, but it was a moment at the end of the service that had the congregation in tears. Tyler’s staff put together a short, black and white video, that featured the boss and his son Aman burying bibles in the foundation of each of the twelve new sound stage’s during construction. The video was narrated by Tyler’s young son and as his voice echoed throughout the tent, tears flowed down Tyler’s face. It was such a pure and beautiful moment and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
After the dedication of the first three soundstage’s, a two-tiered platform rolled on to the runway in front of the crowd and Morgan James performed with a Gospel Choir above her.
Best part, midway through the song, the stage began to creep slowly backwards. It was a crazy genius way to move the assembly down the runway. Everyone just followed the music, from the first set of dedications to the next.
But it gets even better, midway through Ledisi took over for Morgan and belted out “Rise Up”.
Years ago, Tyler visited one of the studios in Hollywood and noticed that none of the soundstage’s were named for African Americans. That is one of the reasons that all twelve of the soundstage’s at Tyler Perry Studios will bear the names of black entertainers. And the importance of the moment, the significance of the gesture was not lost on any of the honorees. Tears of joy rolled down Halle Berry’s face as she received her honor, she was truly touched.
Denzel Washington stood and stared at his stage after the dedication, and as the crowd moved on, he pulled out his cell phone, and took a picture of the sign that sits on the soundstage that will forever bare his name. Whoopi Goldberg, and Spike Lee, like their counterparts were humbled by the moment, and very emotional.
Mary J. Blige was the surprise featured performer at the gala, and she was electric. But the real surprise was the live Karaoke that followed afterwards.
The room was full of some of the most talented artist on the planet, so Tyler decided to pull some friends up on stage. Johnny Gill sang “My My My,” Monica dropped three songs, but the show stopper was Tevin Campbell.
He had the entire room on its feet, when he came up and belted out his 90’s anthem “Can We Talk.” It was incredible. Tyler started the song, then Tevin came up to get it right. It was a perfect flashback.
This event had an Oscars level guest list. Everywhere you turned, there were famous faces, really famous faces. Politicians Bill and Hilary Clinton, Representatives John Lewis, Stacey Abrahams and Maxine Waters, athletes (Hank Aaron, Colin Kaepernick Hall of Famer Dave Winfield), rappers (Ludacris, Jay-Z, Diddy, T.I., Two Chainz), musicians (Usher, Patti LaBelle, Maxwell, Jill Scott), actors (Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Sam Jackson, David Oyelowo), gospel stars (Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, The Clark Sisters), media stars (Gayle King, Don Lemon, Tamron Hall), and that’s just a small sampling of the famous faces who showed up for the weekend.
Before the church service on Sunday, every guest was treated to a tour of Tyler Perry Studios, all 330 acres, and one of the showstoppers was the White House. Yep, there is a White House, as in the home of the president, built on the premises. A full-size replica, that serves as the backdrop for the action on Tyler’s new BET show, The Oval. It really is kind of crazy, and amazing at the same time.