Photo credit: Tyler Perry Studios
When Crystle Stewart boarded a plane to attend the grand opening of Tyler Perry’s new studio in Atlanta, Ga., she had no idea that she would become a part of the official celebration.
The Missouri City, Texas native was among a select number of individuals to receive the first stars on Tyler Perry Studio’s Walk of Fame which was unveiled during the grand opening celebration of his 330-acre complex which includes 12 sound stages dedicated in honor of Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopie Goldberg, and several more iconic performers of color.
Prior to the unveiling, Stewart and other unsuspecting honorees were stationed in front of the newly-dedicated sound stages and told that they would be presenting awards to unspecified individuals. In a dramatic twist, a red cloth was lifted unveiling the honorees’ stars with their names engraved in gold tones as fireworks lit up the skies.
“I just gasped,” said Stewart of her reaction. “I had no idea I would be presented with such an honor. It was a truly, incredible experience.”
Stewart won the coveted Miss USA title in 2008 and began her foray into acting as a member of Tyler Perry’s popular For Better or Worse series and was cast in a number of other Tyler Perry productions, including Too Close To Home, Good Deeds, and Acrimony.
“I admire him and appreciate the support he has given me, and so many others, through the years,” said Stewart of Perry’s impact.
Perry’s commitment to empowering others has been evident throughout his career as he has used his gift to create stage plays, television series, and films as a platform to employ performers of color, and many others. He now owns the largest studio complex in the country (built on the grounds of a former Confederate army base) and has plans to do even more.
At the recent BET Awards, Perry was presented with the BET Icon Award and made an impassioned speech encouraging others to look for opportunities to “help somebody cross.” He shared how his imitations of his mother’s friends helped bring his mother out of pain to laughter to help her cross, and his literal opportunity, as a young boy, to help a blind man (Mr. Butler) cross the street when others had passed him by. Since then, Perry has made it his life’s work to reach back to empower and “help somebody cross” on their journey.
Stewart has embodied that same spirit in her own life as she reaches back to empower and uplift the young ladies she mentors and trains as recruiter and director of the Miss Houston pageant and owner of MISS Academy, a pageant training platform that empowers and instills leadership, confidence, and poise in young women.
Cynthia Stewart, a retired educator, is proud of her daughter. “She definitely has a gift, and God has blessed and anointed her with that, and my hope is for her to continue to walk in the path that he is leading her in,” said Stewart’s mother.
Stewart’s star on Tyler Perry’s Walk of Fame will immortalize her name, and the names of fellow honorees, in stone to inspire and empower future generations to embrace and persevere to follow their dreams.
Photo gallery credits: Tyler Perry Studios