How this Fall River native helped make Tyler Perry’s newest movie

Oct 21, 2022 | Arts & Culture

Audrey Cooney
The Herald News


A Fall River native played a big role in producing Tyler Perry’s newest movie, just the latest step in her journey from the city’s projects to a movie career.

“I’m living proof that you can come from nothing,” said Gina Barboza. “Being able to work with Mr. Perry was like one of those things that you dream about.”

Barboza, who grew up on Fordney Street in Fall River and graduated from B.M.C. Durfee High School, has spent years building a career in film production. She moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, where she worked at Turner Entertainment Networks in roles that included director of music licensing and development and director of production.

She now lives in Atlanta and operates her own entertainment company, Balancing Acts Entertainment, which is currently producing a feature-length documentary centered on her family’s experiences with mental illness and addiction. After years spent working as an executive in the TV and film industry, she said, she’s now more interested in directing and writing.

“I wrote three feature films over COVID,” she said.

While in the process of pitching her own scripts, Barboza got back in contact with a woman she knew in her early days in LA, who has since become president of production and development for Tyler Perry Studios.

“She said, ‘I know you’re trying to pitch your own movie, but I think you’re ready to run your own big film,’” Barboza said. “She sent me the script. I’m not gonna lie, I cried.”

Perry’s “A Jazzman’s Blues” was released on Netflix last month. The drama centers on the story of a young Black couple whose lives are deeply impacted by racism in rural Georgia in the 1940s.

Barboza said she still remembers the feeling of sitting with Perry for a table-read of the script.

“I just never thought in a million years from where I came from and how I started that I would ever be in that room,” she said.

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