Tyler Perry Wants to Leave a Legacy by Building a Shelter for Trafficked Women and Girls, Homeless Women and Displaced LGBTQ Youth

Tyler Perry attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Paul R. Giunta (Getty Images)

With the recent grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios, Tyler Perry’s legacy is pretty much cemented. However, making a difference in Hollywood is not the only way Perry wants to pay it forward.

In a recent interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, Perry revealed another big dream of his.

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“You know, the studio’s gonna be what it is,” Perry said. “I’ll tell you what I’m most excited about next is pulling this next phase off, is building a compound for trafficked women, girls, homeless women, LGBTQ youth who are put out and displaced, right here somewhere on these 330 acres, where they’re trained in the business and they become self-sufficient.”

Tyler Perry’s Atlanta studio to include a compound for displaced LGBTQ youth and trafficked women / CBS This Morning (YouTube)

His goal is for the women and youth to live in “nice apartments,” have access to sufficient daycare and learn about the business so that they may take those tools and pay it forward, as well.

With high-level cases such as R. Kelly and Cyntoia Brown at the forefront, the conversation surrounding sex trafficking has heightened. A fact sheet via Free The Slaves cites approximately 71% of globally enslaved people are women and girls, in comparison to 29% of men and boys.

According to anti-homelessness nonprofit Green Doors, families with children account for 34% of homelessness in America. There is a stark intersection between homelessness and the LGBTQ community, in particular. “As a result of family rejection, discrimination, criminalization and a host of other factors, LGBTQ youth represent as much as 40% of the homeless youth population,” The Trevor Project website notes. “Of that population, studies indicate that as many as 60% are likely to attempt suicide. With statistics like those, it’s not surprising that Perry would want to make a difference where possible. Especially considering his own personal backstory.

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In his recent cover story for People Magazine, Perry touched on the trauma of his own youth, where he opened up about being molested by three different men and a woman by the time he turned 10 years old.

“I didn’t know what was going on or the far-reaching effects of it,” Perry recalled. “I just moved through it. Go onto the next thing. ‘Boys don’t cry, shut up and move on.’”

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“Holding on to all of that, not knowing what to do with it, there was a lot of anger in my teenage years, in my 20s,” said Perry. “A lot of anger, a lot of confusion, a lot of frustration trying to just be OK.”

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As for Perry’s personal legacy, well, that is wrapped up in his 5-year-old son Aman Tyler.

Perry gushed to People in an exclusive interview:

“Even the things that are driving me crazy,” he jokes of his only child, whom he shares with girlfriend Gelila Bekele. “I love once he goes to sleep, because he’s just at that age where he’s very curious about everything.”

“This is the thing he does: ‘Can a cheetah beat a rancher? Can a cheetah beat a car? Can a cheetah beat a bird? Can a cheetah beat a leaf falling?’ ” Perry adds. “By the time we go through all of, ‘Can a cheetah beat?’, I’m beat.”

“But no, it’s just joy,” he continues. “Just watching him learn and discover and yeah, it’s wonderful.”

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.