Although some in his industry are vowing never to work in Georgia again after the state passed a controversial abortion bill, Tyler Perry said it’s not that simple for him.
The acclaimed director celebrated the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios last weekend, which sits on 330 acres in the state. He wants the film industry to “take a deep breath” even in the midst of deafening backlash.
“First of all, when you put a quarter of a billion dollars in the ground in one place, you can’t just go ‘Okay I’m out,’” Perry told Variety. “I still feel very strongly that the great thing about living in a democracy is every four years, you get an opportunity to change things.”
Perry also recognized that the controversial bill was recently “shot down by the courts,” but he’s “still committed to making it work here because in four years, it’ll be a different place.”
The law or Measure HB481 was signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp back in May. It effectively bans abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks. It’s so controversial as many women aren’t even aware that they’re pregnant as six weeks, studies have shown. A federal judge last week put an injunction on the law while it’s being litigated.
Perry, who’s spending $250 million to expand his studios by creating a European town, highway and even a lake, continued, “You can’t base your life and your decisions based on temporary circumstances, you have to look to the long run, especially when you’re in this business and in this situation.”
Despite the legal battle, many in Hollywood—including Nobody’s Fool star Tiffany Haddish—vowed not to work in Georgia again. Others are deciding to donate their tax credits to those working to fight the “Heartbill Bill.”
Perry noted that “of course” those efforts would help. “But I also think that may be about out of some sort of guilt,” he continued. “I just wish everybody would take a deep breath, everybody calm down. I know we’re in an era where a hashtag can change everything, but just take a deep breath about this thing. Because there’s a lot of things at work here that are bigger than what we’re seeing.”
According to his website, Perry purchased the land in June 2015, which now holds 12 sound stages for movie productions.