On October 4, 2008, writer, producer and actor Tyler Perry made entertainment history. He became the first African-American producer to launch a major television and film studio. Tyler Perry Studios sits on a sprawling 30-acre lot in Atlanta.
A star-studded event was held with 350 guests in attendance, including Oprah, Stedman and Gayle. In an emotional dedication, Tyler named five soundstages after some of his biggest inspirations: Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis, Cicely Tyson and Quincy Jones. "He wanted to dedicate it to [some] living actors who paved the way for him," Gayle says.
When Tyler dedicated Sidney Poitier's soundstage to him, tears filled his eyes—and Oprah says she lost it. "There was a moment I went into the ugly cry," she says. Afterward, Sidney told Oprah what he was thinking. "He said he was thinking about the many years when he was at MGM, and he was the only one. When it was just him and the shoe shine man [who were] black. He was thinking about the many times when they only allowed black people onto the soundstages after all the cast and crew had gone, and he would often be there when they would come in at night."