Tyler Perry shared his thoughts on Tuesday about the new restrictive voting laws passed in Georgia this past week, as well as on calls from some corners in Hollywood to boycott filming in the state.
"As a Georgia resident and business owner I've been here a few times with the anti-abortion bill and the LGBTQ discrimination bill. They all sent a shockwave through Georgia and the nation but none of them managed to succeed. I'm resting my hope in the DOJ taking a hard look at this unconstitutional voter suppression law that harkens to the Jim Crow era," Perry said in a statement.
Signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp with protesters outside of the state Capitol, the new voting legislation requires that Georgia voters who want to request an absentee or mail-in ballot must submit the number of their driver's license or state ID card. It also makes it a crime to provide food and water to voters waiting in line outside of polling places, and while it requires that at least one drop-off box for ballots be placed in each county, they must be inside a government building and can only be accessed during business hours.
The law has been criticized by Democrats and voting rights groups as a veiled attempt at voter suppression against Black residents, passed along party lines by Republicans in response to the surge of Black turnout that gave Joe Biden a critical victory in the state over Donald Trump in the 2020 election and which swung the state's two Senate seats to Democrats. President Biden called the law "Jim Crow in the 21st century" while newly seated Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock urged Democrats to pass federal voting rights laws to counter the state legislation, even if it meant removing the Senate filibuster that requires 60 votes to get a bill passed.
"How are you going to insist on protecting minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society?" Warnock asked during an interview on CNN on Sunday.
Meanwhile in Hollywood, the voting law's passage revived calls among some filmmakers and actors to pull movie shoots from Georgia, which has become a hotbed of film and TV production in recent years with dozens of major blockbusters being filmed there, including "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Endgame."
James Mangold, director of "Logan" and "Ford v Ferrari," said he would not shoot his next film in the state, while "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill voiced his support for the idea on Twitter as well. Similar boycott calls briefly were sparked in 2019 when the state signed a bill prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy except for some special circumstances.
Perry, who became the first Black filmmaker to own his own production studio with the creation of Tyler Perry Studios in 2006, has his offices and production sets based in Atlanta, where Black voting organizers worked to turn out support for Biden and the two Senate races this past winter. Perry reminded his Hollywood peers of that victory and that Gov. Kemp will be up for re-election next year, when Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia State House Minority Leader whom Kemp narrowly defeated in 2018, is expected to run again.
"As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon - that's the beauty of a democracy."