"This was the thing I held onto for all those years," the filmmaker says. "This could not have come together any other way other than divine order."
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It took over two decades for Tyler Perry to bring his period melodrama, A Jazzman's Blues, to the screen — and the beloved entertainer and media mogul wouldn't have had it any other way.

Set against the backdrop of the 1940s, A Jazzman's Blues (out Friday on Netflix) tells a tale of forbidden love and family drama unraveling over decades in the Deep South.

Perry began the script — the first that he'd ever written — in the late '90s, embarking on what would become a 27-year journey to bring it to the screen. But before that, he had to build his empire. 

TIFF Must List
Solea Pfeiffer and Joshua Boone in 'A Jazzman's Blues'
| Credit: Courtesy of TIFF

"I knew that I had to be intentional in everything that I was doing," Perry said while visiting PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's studio at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month (above). "I was building a studio, I was building a company. I had to have all these shows that I knew my audience wanted to see. And for many years, I always wanted to do this [film]."

"We talked about doing this over 20 years ago, Debbie [Allen, choreographer for the film] and I, but I knew that I had a goal to reach," Perry said. "Once I reached that goal and found a place where I was secure, I felt like, you know, let me go back and do some of the things that I love. Jazzman was at the top of that list."

The result is a movie centered on "youthful joy and pure love," adds co-star Solea Pfeiffer, who plays one of the plot's star-crossed lovers opposite Joshua Boone. There was once a time when a younger Perry envisioned himself in the Boone role, and while taking on the part could have been daunting, Boone says Perry's faith in him only revitalized him.

A JAZZMAN’S BLUES
Joshua Boone in 'A Jazzman's Blues'
| Credit: Jace Downs/NETFLIX

"For him to say yes to me, I felt his trust," Boone says. "Not only that, but I feel like I have a lot to give, that I want to give, to this work. For him to say yes, it only charged me up. It gave me more confidence. It was a blessing to work with him."

Despite the film's heavy subject matter, Perry called the experience the most fun he's had on set. "This was the labor of love — this was the thing I held onto for all those years," Perry said. "And getting a chance to work with all of these incredibly talented people and this cast, I thought, 'Okay, this could not have come together any other way other than divine order. So I was very happy every day. "

Watch EW and PEOPLE's full interview with Perry and the cast of A Jazzman's Blues in the video above.

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