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Tyler Perry talks about how he opened his studios during pandemic, Rep. John Lewis and social injustice

Production of 'Sistas', a television comedy-drama series that airs on BET, just finished filming in Atlanta with no positive test results.
Credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Invision/AP
Tyler Perry poses for a photo on the red carpet at the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios at Tyler Perry Studios on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Atlanta. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Invision/AP)

ATLANTA — Tyler Perry was on the TODAY Show this morning to discuss how he has been able to open his Atlanta studios during a global pandemic, while much of the industry has remained shut down.

He also spoke of the late Rep. John Lewis, who represented the district where Tyler Perry Studios is located in southwest Atlanta.

"He was a really good man. He wanted what was right," he said. "And good always wins."

Perry talked about what he is calling "Camp Quarantine," which includes a 30-page manual about how to bring productions back to life. He said he did it with the help of Emory's Dr. Carlos del Rio and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

"The've been my partners in making this work," he said of the doctors. "They know infectious disease."

Perry explained that he could have sat around and waited for a vaccine, but told the TODAY Show anchors that he has 360 employees working for him that had bills to pay.

Perry said that they just finished production of "Sistas," a television comedy-drama series that airs on BET, with no positive test results.

To do that successfully, Perry said all 360 employees were tested upon arrival and were required to stay in their living quarters on site until the results came back. 

He said there were four people who initially tested positive, but because of the system in place, they did not expose anyone in the camp.

"We were able to keep it out of the camp, which is really a blessing," Perry said.

He also spoke of social injustice as well as his ongoing giving back to the community, including his most recent donation of gift cards to the Atlanta Police Department -- allowing them to distribute them in the community.

"Every police officer is not bad. Every Black person is not bad. I just wanted to send a great message across the world that there are some of us who are standing with good police officers as well as Black - and standing in the community - who want this all to work out in the best way for everybody."

TODAY's Craig Melvin concluded the interview by saying "Atlanta is lucky to have you."