Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story (2023) Movie Script

What filmmaker has had five movies
open number one at the box office
in the last four years?
Spielberg? Tarantino?
This record belongs to Tyler Perry.
When people would come to me and say,
"I have the next Tyler Perry," I'd say,
"Does he tour 280 to 300 days a year,
getting to know his audience?"
If he doesn't, then you don't have
the next Tyler Perry.
Do not play him small.
Because he is not just
some lucky, rich Negro...
...turned Black man.
We grew up Uptown New Orleans, 3rd Ward.
Round the Magnolia Project.
People reverted to crime.
You know, burglary, robbery, drugs...
using 'em, selling 'em.
Can you believe you were homeless
seven years ago?
- Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
JAMES CORDEN: He is an actor,
writer, director, producer.
I'm gonna say it, entertainment mogul.
Tyler Perry Studios.
You have the largest studios
in the United States.
- TYLER: That's what they told me, yeah.
- FALLON: The country. Yeah.
Give him a planet, come on.
You have no idea
what it is like to acquire an asset
from the United States Army.
20 feature films, more than 20 plays,
nine TV shows, New York Times Best Seller.
- Unbelievable.
REPORTER: Known for producing movies
primarily for Black audiences,
but a growing number of critics
in the Black community
take issue with Perry's work.
WOMAN: You can't expect
that everyone is just going to
give him the thumbs-up because he's Black
and he, you know, scraped his way up
to Hollywood.
MAN 1:
The underlying stories and plots
that he uses and stereotypes,
I have a lot of problems with.
Here's the biggest thing.
Tyler Perry didn't give a eff about
what nobody had to say
about what he was doing.
- He served his audience.
MAN 2: I think just
when you're a pioneer in anything,
it's not gonna be easy.
It's a formula, again and again and again,
and he hits you over the head with it.
I don't know what he's trying
to work out on film.
Probably needs to work it out in therapy.
It's just a really horrible message.
It's like cinematic malt liquor
for the masses.
You know when you represent the culture...
...there's a responsibility
and sometimes almost a burden
that comes with that.
Why do you work so hard?
Why do I work so hard?
MAN 3: Few have done more to widen
the scope of television than Tyler Perry.
MAN 1: And in this latest film,
I think he's crossed the line.
REPORTER: Most successful
African American filmmaker in history.
MAN 4: But at the point
that it reaches Hollywood,
that's when it becomes a problem.
He was definitely an outsider.
There is no denying the talent...
MAN 5:
Tyler Perry has become a billionaire...
- ...and the power...
- ...and still likes to put on a dress.
...of Tyler Perry.
- You've accomplished a lot.
What have you not done
that you want to do?

Hey, look, shouts out to you.
You're a billionaire's sister.
How about that?
God is good, baby. Look out.
All right, baby.
All right, sweetie, talk to you soon.
My cousin Melva, Tyler's sister.
You know, we used to call him "Junior"
growing up.
"What's up, Junior?" "Junior. Junior."
But now it's Tyler, you know.
It's not Emmitt, and, um...
But that was his birth name:
Emmitt Perry Jr.
You know, he changed his name
to Tyler Perry, rightfully so,
because he had an estranged relationship
with his dad.
You know, for freaking many years.
So he didn't want to be known
as Emmitt Jr.
Let me tell you this.
And this is just me. This how I feel.
The trauma too deep.
The wound is cut too deep.
You cut a person, and it start healing,
and then you...
then you rupture the-the wound.
So, every time he was wounded,
he kept rupturing the wound.
Now the wound never heals.
And it never will.
It was a star-studded night Saturday
as celebrities flooded Atlanta
to celebrate
the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios.
The studio... 330 acres...
sits on the grounds
of the former Fort McPherson army base
in southwest Atlanta.
Tyler also dedicated 12 soundstages,
each named after
a groundbreaking Black artist,
including Oprah Winfrey,
Will Smith and Halle Berry,
just to name a few.
How do you feel right now, sir?
I feel...
And calm.
And, um, ready and grateful
and thankful and hopeful and...
Ready to go.
I'm really trying to calm my nerves,
'cause you know how I am about time.
- It's like... (STAMMERS, SIGHS)
I'm just trying to be like,
"Just go with the flow, TP.
Just go with the flow. Be in the moment."
That kid underneath your porch,
did he ever think
you'll have all of this right now?
TYLER: Are you really trying that
with me right now?
- Yeah.
- You really trying that with me right now?
- It ain't gonna happen, bud.
- I didn't... I just mean...
It ain't gonna happen. You better...
You better call Gayle King
or Oprah Winfrey or somebody.
You ain't... (STAMMERS)
Ain't gonna happen.
I'm not going there.
- All right.
- Mm-mm.
- I'm-a try it all weekend.
- I've got to just get through this moment.
I have to try not to float above.
You see, that's-that's my thing, though.
My problem with a lot of things in life is
I float above it.
And, uh...
That's just from childhood.
That's from abuse, where it's pain.
You just try to get through it.
But I found out that
I have that with everything.
When it's even joy and happiness,
I just...
(STAMMERS) Gets my s...
Senses get too heightened.
I just want to be above it.
So, tonight, and every day
and every moment, just like,
"Calm down, calm down, calm down.
"You're okay. Calm down. You're safe.
"It's just emotion. It's just feeling.
"It's just... It's good. You're all right.
It's love. It's joy, so..."
You know, they say,
"The best wine is grown
in the toughest soil."
And when you think of
just the finest wines,
the grapes have to push through
rocks and branches,
in all sorts of detours,
in order to come through the soil.
In many ways, I think that
that really does characterize
Tyler's growing up.
He had some horrific experiences
as a child,
and that has fed into who he is.
That ultimately led
to the characters he created
and the imagination that he had.
Because you go inside your mind.
And so, it all makes sense to me
that he would turn into
this person that he is,
that he would have
the level of perseverance
and relentlessness that he has.
Because he had to come through a lot.
He had to be that wine
to break through that soil.
It's hard living in New Orleans.
Hard to survive,
and it's a dangerous town.
The gunfire.
The robberies.
The-the gang violence.
But it was, it was very dangerous.
It was very dangerous.
The crime rate was real high.
We was once the murder capital
of the world.
ANCHORWOMAN: Gun violence is surging
once again in New Orleans...
Rise in crime is...
Murders are up in New Orleans, and...
JAMES BALDWIN: I don't know what
most white people in this country feel.
I can only conclude what they feel
from the state of their institutions.
"He told me, 'Dying is very easy.
Living is a difficult thing.'"
And, um, the police went up
in Bruce Grocery.
Opened fire on 'em.
YOUNG MAN: They told me,
"Stand up," and I said, "No.
What, so you can shoot me?"
LUCKY: Statistically, here in New Orleans,
you might not make it to live to see 21.
If you make it to your 21st birthday,
you beat the odds.
You-you beat the devil.
You beat the statistic.
And it's survival of the fittest
growing up in this area.
You know? So, soon as
you come out your house,
hell, you might not come back.
I'm-a pan around,
and you'll see this building right here.
This was a scatter-site,
so we lived in here as well.
Two houses down... Aunt Maxine,
my Tyler Perry, Yulanda, Emmbre,
Melva, they lived two houses down,
which we're gonna go to right now.
This is the actual house
that Tyler grew up in.
In the back of this house, he built a, uh,
clubhouse, where we would go back there,
under the house,
and get away from Uncle Emmitt.
PITTS (OVER TV): We crossed the street
to where he used to live,
and the pain of his past came back.
This is where I grew up.
I have not been in this house in years.
He brought us out back,
showed us the cubbyhole where he would
escape from his father's abuse.
- This was my hideout,
my safe place, you know?
When it got too much, you'd go in here?
TYLER: Yeah. Yeah.
I've spent, like, all day in there.
I be a little sad for Tyler sometimes
because he had it real rough.
You know, he had a real... he had...
he had it way rougher than us.
It didn't have to be like that.
Yeah, I don't know
what God message was for him,
and maybe the message has come to pass,
because he's very successful now.
Whereas he has a lot going on,
and he's taking care of a lot of people
and blessing them,
but how is he sleeping at night?
You know, thinking about his childhood.
Tyler's dad,
he was a rough man growing up.
He was a... a no-nonsense type guy.
You know, didn't laugh a lot,
didn't think too much was funny.
Uh, you know, he was a strong,
hardworking man,
but he was just a real irate,
sultry type man.
Just hard, you know?
Third-grade education,
come out the country,
and he just guided by working hard.
He would get off work maybe 3:00,
get home at 3:30.
There's a corner store right here
at the corner, not even half a block,
and they would have cases of beer.
But he would drink every single day.
Soon as the truck pull up,
we knew it was about to go down.
He gon' jump out with the,
with the, with the 24 case of beer.
He gon' drink all of 'em
until somebody get here,
and he gon' cut up.
And for Junior... for, uh, for Tyler,
I'm sorry... for Tyler,
(STAMMERS) his beatings was just
a little more excessive.
One time, we were real young,
and he whipped Tyler real, real bad.
He had blood all on his back.
He ran out the house, man.
He... you know, he was young.
He ran out the house.
He come around the corner by us.
And our mom was like,
"What? Who did this?"
AUNT JERRY: There are these huge welts
across his back.
I mean, about this long and about
that thick 'cause they're swollen.
I mean, that's-that's my nephew.
He's a baby.
He was a little boy then, little boy.
Maybe seven or eight years old.
He was little.
She didn't play 'bout us.
You know, her nieces, nephews, her kids.
The mother lion, if you will.
She protected us by all costs.
If the big bad bear was coming,
she gon' fight the bear.
So, I just... just clicked.
I went and got the gun.
We come around the corner,
Mama dragging us all.
We had on our little Hanes brief.
You know, our little tighty-whities,
and we crying.
Saw him getting on the porch
as usual, drinking.
AUNT JERRY: And I asked him
why did he hit him in his back like that.
And he told me to mind my business.
He shouldn't have said that.
She raised the gun up to shoot him,
and my dad moved it.
That was so scary,
'cause it went...
I looked at my mom like, "Jesus."
You know, she...
Mom was just about to shoot Uncle Emmitt,
you know?
And then he didn't play with her,
and he would listen to her.
Even in the drunken stupor,
he would listen to her,
'cause he remembered that goddamn gun.
That's not one of my proud moments,
but it was just so hurtful.
I just can't tolerate it,
because I chastised my children, too,
but none of my boys could ever tell you
that they got beat like that.
I mean, no, no, no, no. How can you
when you love your children?
How can you do that?
How can your heart allow you to do it?
So I don't understand that,
but it's not for me to understand.
OPRAH: It wasn't until last night,
when I was talking with the producers
about this story, that I first heard,
uh, that you had been beaten so badly
that one time you blacked out.
Like, I-I remember holding on
to a chain-link fence,
and I'm holding so tight
my hands are bloody
as he's hitting me, and I'm-I'm holding...
- Wow.
- Just trying to hold on for my life.
I was so enraged about it in my mind.
I see myself running from me.
- Wow.
- And I couldn't get the little boy...
I couldn't get that little boy
to come back to me.
I couldn't get myself to come back to me.
So it got so bad that, as a little boy,
- you slit your wrists.
- TYLER: Yeah.
Yeah, I was, I was suicidal,
because I thought I just...
what is the point in living?

Having this tremendous trauma as a kid,
for me...
...I could create spaces in my mind
that were real.
While things are happening to me,
no matter what it was...
if it's my father yelling,
or if I'm being violated
or touched inappropriately...
I would go in my mind
to a different place.
One of my places of escape was this yard,
and I could see birds and trees and fields
and hear people having conversations
and see their houses and their cars
and the tiniest detail
of the outlet on the wall,
what was plugged into it and what...
the steam from the coffee.
I could see all these things in my head.
The world was so vivid
and so beautiful and so clear,
that place that I thought was
safe and peaceful
really existed, and I got there.
And I didn't want to leave.
I didn't want to come back down
into myself after the trauma was over.
And the heightened senses
would send me to these moments.
OPRAH: The way he was
literally tortured as a little boy...
that was torture... and to know
that he was able to separate
in his imagination
without losing his mind.
Because for so many children
who are treated as horrifically as he was,
particularly by the father figure,
they have personality disorders.
And they completely separate,
not just in terms of their imagination
but separate in terms of
personalities in order to, uh,
bear the torture, bear the pain.
Bear the consistent
never knowing when it's gonna come
or how hard it's gonna be,
but you know it's gonna be hard.
His ability to relate to people is
because he comes from
the space of living it
and not just talking it.
And that's why he can speak to
anybody else who's ever been abused
or burdened or involved
in any kind of struggle and crisis,
as children, as adults.
He's one of those people who is able
to turn his pain into some real power.
And he wouldn't be who he is,
he wouldn't have the wealth,
the notoriety,
the ability to tell the stories
in the way that he specifically
is able to hit the nerve
of the African American community,
had he not lived that pain.
People ask, "How can you write, you know,
20 scripts in two weeks?"
It's just I can access that place
and see that world and hear those voices,
and it just floods out of me.
So for-for what some think
is-is weird or strange,
for me, it's just being able to access
a place that I created as a kid
to help me cope,
that now is the very thing
that is sustaining
a lot of what I'm doing in the business.
So, again, everything finding its way
to work together for the good.
ELVIN ROSS: Writing in his journal
was cathartic for him.
He got that from Oprah.
He used to always speak about her
in the early days,
you know, and how that
someday he would meet her.
You know, "Someday I'll meet Oprah.
"Someday we'll be friends, you know?
Someday I'll have my own TV show."
He was so inspired by that episode
where she talked about journaling
and writing things down,
and I think he found healing through that
and catharsis.
And-and that's where the first stories
were born, the first play.
So I love that somebody who inspired him
and who he looked up to,
and who probably seemed...
a lifetime away
ended up becoming one of
his closest confidants.
But he also used to always talk about
the way she did business.
I watched him walk away
from major networks
because they wouldn't do it his way.
There was a certain formula that he had.
But it goes back to his faith
and what God has told him.
"This is what I've given for you to do.
Stay steadfast and stay focused."
- And that's exactly what he's done.
Tyler, you are a brilliant visionary
that embodies
what the African American dream truly is.
I am deeply, deeply honored
to present
the 2019 BET Ultimate Icon Award
to my dear, dear friend, Mr. Tyler Perry.
TYLER: I couldn't help
but think about my mother.
I remember being a kid
at about five years old.
She would take me into the projects
with her when she played cards
some Friday nights with a bunch of women.
Now, these women didn't have
more than a 12th grade education,
but they were smart Black women,
they were powerful Black women.
They had great stories to tell.
And I was a five-year-old kid
sitting there on the floor,
playing with my Matchbox cars,
listening to them talk about
their men, their relationships
and their pains.
And when one of them would get really sad,
another woman would come in and
make a joke and they'd all start laughing.
I didn't know
I was in a master class for my life.
I would get home,
and my father would be beating my mother
and doing all kinds of things
and saying all kinds of stuff to her,
and he would leave the room,
and I'd walk in,
and I'd imitate one of those women,
and she would start laughing.
There was a power in that
that I didn't really get.
My first ten movies were
all about her subconsciously,
wanting her to know that she was worthy,
wanting Black women to know you're worthy.
You're special.
You're powerful. You're amazing.

MAXINE PERRY: When I had Tyler,
or Junior, as I called him,
Emmitt Perry Jr.,
he was my only son for ten years,
so of course I spoiled him rotten.
I would give him a bath
three and four times a day.
I would dress him in this little jumpsuit,
one-piece outfit.
Thought he was so cute in it.
And he grew up to be a very loving child,
very sweet.
He was very sweet.
You know, and with Junior,
I mean, it was just a difference.
Tyler, he got both of 'em.
He got his... he got his mom humility,
love, grace, peace.
But he got his dad hustle,
his-his work ethic.
You know, he's just not
an asshole like his dad.
No disrespect to my Uncle Emmitt.
I love him.
Yeah, but he was an asshole.
You know, he was truly an asshole.
And he'll see the documentary.
You know, I'll-I'll face him.
(CHUCKLES) I'm an adult now, you know?
But he was, he was a motherfucker, man.
But, um...
but when you're younger, you know,
this the big, bad wolf.
But when you get older,
you confront the big, bad wolf.
And that's what happened with Tyler,
you know?
As he got older, he was like,
"You're not gonna run over me anymore.
You're not gonna step on me anymore."
You know, I think about my mother,
and I think about this 20, 20th,
21st century judgment of her
and how she stayed with this man.
But her mother died when she was 13.
This man married her when she was 17.
She knew nothing about the world.
She knew nothing about life.
And her... all of her sole support
and everything she knew
and everything she had been taught is
if he paid the bills, you had a good man.
So she stayed in what she knew.
We got married in 1963.
- We moved to New Orleans.
- WOMAN: Okay.
And I had Yulanda, then Melva right after.
Didn't have too much sense,
just got pregnant.
Young and dumb. And...
TYLER: Having my sister at 18,
my other sister at 19,
me at 24, and here we are.
She's a Black woman in Louisiana
with three kids.
What does she do?
What does she do for work to pay?
To support us? What does she do?
She stayed.
And I have absolutely no judgment for her
because of the pain and the hell
she went through herself
just-just to survive
and to keep the peace.
And on top of all of that, she loved him.
Don't know how, I don't know why,
but I knew she did.
She loved him until the day she died.
I think that her holding on to everything,
holding on to every emotion,
never showing people sadness,
always just smiling and happy
and always wanting peace,
always wanting my father to be smiling.
Like, she would send me in the room
to say hi to him when I didn't want to,
'cause he could walk in a room, I'd leave.
I remember asking my mother,
I was like, "Is he my father?"
'Cause I just could not understand
how this man could look at me
and hate me so diligently, which...
with such passion, he had such hate.
Just the intimidation factor of it,
the... again, the wicked hatred of it.
- Come on, thy weary
I believe I've got some witnesses
here tonight...
How did I deal?
Listen, if God gave me nothing else,
he gave me a mother who took me to church,
who prayed and believed.
I know he is...
I became Tyler's pastor as a teenager.
And so, it was like God connected me
to him because of his hurt.
The sense of community and faith
and believing carried me through
some of the darkest times
growing up into young adulthood,
of trying to understand
who I was, what I wanted to be in life.
It was all intertwined in the church.
KILLER MIKE: You grow up in a Christian
household, especially in the Black South,
much of your life is
revolved around the church.
In matters of finding the arts,
as Reagan cut the arts out in the '80s,
it really was church plays.
It really was community theater
that kept the arts alive for kids
that may not have had access
through public schools anymore.
So, growing up in New Orleans,
Tyler and I attended the same church,
which was Greater St. Stephen Baptist
Church... Full Gospel Baptist Church...
in-in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Greater St. Stephen was like
the event place of the city at the time.
So it was almost like
an outlet for Christians.
People from all walks of life
would attend church there.
It pretty much served as, like,
the church of the city.
(LAUGHS): I was a musician,
one of the fifth string keyboard players,
I used to like to say,
and Tyler was in the choir.
It was a pretty big thing
to attend Greater St. Stephen.
It was an even bigger thing
to be in the choir.
On my mother's side,
my grandfather was a minister,
my great-grandfather was a minister,
his father was a minister,
and we can find ministers going
all the way back to slavery on her side.
So the very church, faith,
God is in my blood.
It's in my DNA.
He's always been...
he's always been a leader.
I know many people may not know the story,
but Tyler, as a teenager,
uh, was-was-was going to be a preacher.
Went to seminary school, studied,
learned more about the Bible.
It was time for me to do my first sermon.
BISHOP PAUL: In our ministry, you have to
preach what we call a trial sermon.
You really have to be humble. (CHUCKLES)
You have to... Uh, I mean,
it's-it's just a solemn situation
where you just stand there.
Okay, I shared with you
the kind of word
that you're supposed to give.
I want you to give it.
My Aunt Thelma was there.
My mother was there.
Everybody was so proud, 'cause I...
there I am, doing my first sermon.
And Noah did according unto all...
I'm sitting there for the test for him.
He gets up,
honored me, honored the church.
And then, "Listen, y'all, y'all just all..."
(LAUGHS): I mean,
and people are falling out laughing.
I said,
"Hey, you're not supposed to do that.
This is a serious time.
You're trying to pass the test."
Uh, and said, "Lord, I thought
you said it was gon' rain."
After it was over, he got up behind me,
and he said, in front of everybody,
"You know, if God calls you,
he'll qualify you.
Um, but sometimes you ain't qualified."
I-I stopped him in the beginning.
I said, "No, no, no, no, no.
You're called to do something else."
In front of everybody, in front of
my aunt, in front of everybody.
I was crushed.
So, in my trying to figure out
what I'm gonna do with this thing,
this calling thing,
I hear that voice saying,
"I'm gonna take you to another place
to speak to more people."
I didn't know what that was at the time,
didn't know how I would get there.
And that has been the most frustrating
part of my early life and early career.
Listen, I got a father who says
I'm a stupid mother(BLEEP),
I'm never gonna be anything.
I'm-I'm a piece of (BLEEP),
I'm a jackass, every day of my life.
I never thought that people would
actually want to see me do anything,
see... uh, respect me as an actor.
You add that to white people
controlling every part of it.
I'm like, that-that wasn't even
a possibility or an option.
- Open the floodgates of heaven...
- TYLER: I do remember
being in the choir
and doing this thing about
all of the animals in the ark and Noah.
I do remember that.
I remember standing there.
This is my big time to shine 'cause
I had two lines in front of the church.
- ...a problem, 'cause I see no rain.
- Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, sister.
I want to know what you building
that big old thing for.
What you gonna... God gonna put his shoes
in there or something?
- What is that?
Well, since you're bringing
two of everything,
I got two air fresheners
'cause I know you need it.
He was able to relate to people.
- We want rain.
We want rain.
- Make it rain. Make it rain.
I think that that's what drove him.
Let it rain, rain
Let it rain
Let it rain down on me
Rain, rain, rain
Rain down on me
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain
Let it rain
Open the floodgates of heaven.
I tell you this, man.
New Orleans wasn't
extremely supportive of Tyler.
He had to go away.
He love his town, don't get me wrong.
He love his town. He do.
But the town didn't produce Tyler Perry.
You know, Atlanta produced Tyler Perry.
It's Outkast for the boots,
I thought you knew
So now you know, let's go
All the players came
from far and wide...
TYLER: In the '90s,
there was this great migration.
Every Black person was moving to Atlanta.
20-something years old,
put everything I had,
which was nothing, in my Hyundai
and drove to Atlanta.
Moving to Atlanta was a big example
for me to understand what I could be.
Hallelujah, hallelujah
You know, I do some things
more different than I used to...
I see Black people doing well,
and that's not something we had
as Black people in New Orleans.
It was drugs, gangs, rape, murder.
You know, horrible atrocities going on.
And to come out of that
and come into Atlanta,
where the drug dealers in my mind
were replaced by doctors
and lawyers who were Black,
where the people in the neighborhood
had more than what they needed
and felt that they deserved it,
it was like,
"Whoa, this is the promised land."
There's a heart that beats
in this city for Black people to thrive.
That for me is a revelation,
that I deserve it, too,
because I am just as good as anybody else.
So, I came here for what-what
the Black kids call Freaknik at the time,
- which-which is spring break.
But when I saw people doing well,
I knew Atlanta was gonna be my home.
Seeing hope all around me,
that's what this city
and this state has represented for me.
I was working everywhere I could.
Saved enough money to rent the 14th Street
Playhouse and did my first play.
I moved to Atlanta several years later,
and he came up to me
one Sunday after church and said,
"Hey, you remember me from New Orleans?"
I was like, "Yeah, I actually do."
He was like, "I'm doing this play called
I Know I've Been Changed."
I was like, "Isn't that the same play
that was failing in New Orleans?"
He was like, "Yeah, it's-it's... you know,
we're-we're... we picked back up,
and I lost my music director."
TYLER: I rented this place called
the 14th Street Playhouse to do this play,
because I thought
people are gonna show up.
We're rehearsing in the shows.
It's this 200-seat theater.
I keep checking the ticket sales
every day.
They said, "Oh, you sold one today."
All right, we're two weeks out.
"Oh, you've sold four seats."
Uh, okay.
I don't know what the hell I was thinking,
that people were gonna come out
and see a play
on the Fourth of July weekend.
this young man that wrote this play,
and these great cast members,
they have come here
to give us some insight
on the trials and tribulations that
we've been going through in our lives.
Some of us have been
through the storms a lot.
And they're giving us...
I Know I've Been Changed is about
adult survivors of child sexual abuse
and the lingering ramifications of that
in their lives.
It's telling a very personal story
that is actually really relatable
to a lot of people.
I mean, if you just look at statistics
about how many people have been
victims of sexual assault
and child sexual abuse,
um, it's something
that's not spoken of very much.
But it's something
that a lot of people deal with.
Wrapping that with
an uplifting message at the end,
you can take this trauma
and turn it into something positive.
So Perry has a very motivational premise
with this play.
I remember this.
- (LAUGHS) - CORSON: And I think
that's continued through his work.
TYLER: There were about 30 people
in the audience,
and I thought I'd see 1,200
over the course of the weekend.
That was a hard moment
and hard lesson learned.
Out of the 30 people that were there,
there was someone who said,
"I think this is good. I'll invest."
I was like, "Really?"
I can do the lights.
I will save that money.
All right.
I can sell the candy at intermission,
because I can do that, too.
And then I can be back on stage,
so I've got enough time
to get in costume, sell the candy,
put the lights up.
Oh, and I can drive the truck.
All these things to save money.
We were so broke that
we used to share burgers together.
He would take half.
I'll take the other half.
We would take a handful of fries
and just talk about
these great dreams that he had.
We're splitting a burger, and he's
telling me he's gonna be rich one day.
Uh, he would say, "Man...
you know, they... it's all
learning experiences," you know?
Uh, uh, it's not failures.
You know, but he believed in hisself,
he believed in his project,
and he wanted to get his message out,
so he stayed the course.
I'd get jobs in between these gigs, right?
So I go to my boss,
and I tell him I need some time off
to go and do this play.
My mother had rented a van
for me to drive the cast.
That was the worst show of my career.
I still have nightmares about it.
I loaded up everything in the truck
and drove down to Spartanburg.
That weekend, a hurricane,
of all weekends, is coming that weekend.
I still did the show. Nobody showed up.
I was coming back,
it's raining so hard I'm flying.
- This big truck,
with all the stuff in the back of it,
and I got the pedal to the metal
because I was so angry with God.
I'm like, "You told me to do this.
I know I heard the voice.
"What is going on?
Every time I step out here
to do these plays, you leave me."
Over and over and over again it happened.
And I'm just like, "What am I doing?"
And I'm just flying.
Didn't care if I lived or died.
you're about to have a fresh start,
there's always a storm.
A storm always announces
that you have outgrown where you are...
- (ECHOES): have outgrown where you are...
- TYLER: But hearing my mother say
that the play will never work,
that was... that crushed me,
because she was my sole support.
I got home and told her that I didn't make
that $300 to pay for that van.
Oh, that was it.
"(BLEEP) you mean
you didn't make this mother(BLEEP)?"
Oh, she-she lost it.
"Give that (BLEEP) up.
You ain't never gonna make it."
I'll never forget it.
I sat there in tears.
She was in front of me on the sofa,
'cause she was smoking.
She was just like... (IMITATES PUFFING)
"You spent... How-how the hell I'm-a pay
this $300 on the (BLEEP) credit card
'cause you run...
running out doing this mother(BLEEP)..."
And she's just smoking, right?
And I'm sitting back on the sofa
as she's there doing it,
and tears are just running down my face.
And she's smoking and she realizes that,
at some point in all her cussing,
she's realizing I'm quiet.
She turned around
and she sees the tears on my face.
She said...
and then she got water in her eyes.
She's like, "Baby, I'm so sorry.
I just want you to just get you a job."
I got home to an eviction notice,
of course,
and ended up out on the streets.
Know I've been changed...
After about seven years of doing the show
over and over again and it not working,
I had got another job, so defeated.
I said, "Okay, that's it.
I'm not doing this anymore."
And I got a call from these promoters
saying they had an opportunity
to do the show at the House of Blues,
and they wanted me to do it one more time.
And I was like,
"Eh, no, I'm over it. I'm done."
I started thinking and hearing that voice
and praying that I should do it.
This time, I had been homeless,
out on the street.
I know what that feels like.
I don't want to do that again.
I know that I can depend
on this money coming in.
But that voice was so clear.
So I went and told the man that I quit.
We're gonna do the show.
So I'm thinking this is gonna be
the same story all over again.
I just wanted to get through the show.
I sat in the dressing room
the night of the show,
and I said, "God, you know what?
I've had enough."
It's... I was 28 at the time, and I said,
"I-I can't go on living like this.
You... I know you told me to do this,
"I know you keep bringing me out here,
but I don't hear from you
"when I get in these situations,
when I can't pay the rent,
"when I can't pay the bills,
when I got friends and family,
I'm calling them for 20,
30 dollars so that I can eat."
- But when God is telling you something...
- WOMAN: Mm.
- ...and you know it in your spirit...
- Yes. walk into what God is telling you.
So what I did was I said,
"Okay, I'm not doing it no more, God."
And I heard a still,
small voice say to me,
- "I am God.
I tell you when it's over.
You don't tell me when it's over."
I got up and I looked out the window,
and there was a line around the corner,
in the cold, trying to get into
the Tabernacle, with House of Blues.
The show starts. I walk out onstage.
It's packed to the rafters.
Every joke is hitting,
every line is hitting.
They are loving it. They are rolling
back and forth in the chairs.
End of the show, I come out
to take a bow, standing ovation.
Dust literally shaking,
coming down from the rafters
- from all the noise in the room.
My life shifted in that moment.
It changed in that moment.
I got a call from a national promoter
who said,
"We want to take you to the Fox Theater
next week."
4,500-seat theater.
I think we did three or four shows,
sold them all out.
It was the beginning of something
that I wasn't prepared for,
because I had had
all of this negativity in my life.
I had all these people tell me
what I would never be.
Nobody said what I could be.
And now, all of a sudden,
I had success for the first time.
Yes, he did.
TYLER: And the show was bigger
and better than ever.
New set, new lights, new sound.
It-It's over the top.
I'm actually leaving the show
to go do the new show,
which is called
I Can Do Bad All By Myself.
Okay, and are you in this particular one?
Yes, I am. I play a 68-year-old woman
named Madea,
- who... Yeah.
- (LAUGHS) A 68-year-old woman? Oh.
TYLER: I was gonna do
the Madea character small,
really quick, onstage five minutes,
make the people laugh
and get off the stage.
I don't owe you nothing!
ELVIN: He had started out with Daddy Joe
in I Know I've Been Changed.
And then he moved to the character Madea.
The first stop we did was in Chicago.
It was Madea and another artist
that was supposed to be in the play.
Sold all these tickets out in Chicago
for her to be there,
and she never showed up.
So all these people come in
looking for her, and she wasn't there.
It was really scary,
and I had to go onstage
and do the Madea lines and her line.
We're looking at an audience, and they're
looking like, "Are you kidding us?"
Somebody tell me what is going on.
I looked at him, I was like,
"It feels like
we just lost the Super Bowl."
TYLER: I tell you
how much I appreciate your patience,
'cause I know that
this has been a struggle.
I know it's been difficult.
It's been difficult for us.
ELVIN: After all of that success,
there was there another failure.
When you walk into a season that's yours,
I don't care what is happening around you.
No matter what it is or who it is,
nobody can stop you,
nobody can keep you
from getting to what's your...
You paid your dues.
No man has done this,
so no man can take it away.
And I wake up every morning
thanking God for it.
ELVIN: He called me early in the morning,
says, "Get up."
I'm like, "Okay."
"We're gonna fix it."
He worked on the script.
We met for rehearsal.
We worked on some music.
And that Wednesday night... show opened
on Tuesday... that Wednesday night,
he came out as Madea,
and he got some laughs.
- (DEEP VOICE): Hello?
(MADEA'S VOICE): Oh, hey, girl,
how you doing? Girl, I thought...
The next night, we worked it again.
The next day, we got bigger laughs.
- Well, how I look today?
- Oh, you look nice, too, Miss Ma'am.
- Thank you so much. (LAUGHS)
ELVIN: By the time
we got to the end of the weekend,
the theater was full,
and everybody was humming.
He had completely worked the play.
Madea had become the star.
Absolutely loved it.
He plays the characters.
Would have to be Madea. We're...
Hands down, Madea. (LAUGHS) Hands down.
I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.
We loved it. Absolutely loved it.
We'd come see it ten billion more times.
Madea is this larger-than-life character
who can tell you all about yourself.
Tell you all you... all about yourself,
drink you under the table
and cuss you out.
And then tuck you in.
TYLER: It's a Southern term.
It's short for "Mother Dear."
KILLER MIKE: I think it's important to say
the African American community,
especially in the South,
is a matriarchal one.
Our families are ran by big mamas.
You can be whatever you want
to be in this world.
You don't have a Black Panther Party
without the female contingent.
- I like that. Okay, okay.
- If you're Black and from the South,
you know Madea,
like, straight up. (LAUGHS)
You just... it may be your aunt,
it may be your mom,
maybe your grandmother or your sister.
You know someone who's loosely familiar
with the principles of the Bible.
May not have ever read it.
But... (LAUGHS) But will tell you,
"Jesus said, 'Be nice to your cousin.'"
You like, "Jesus never..."
"What did I say?"
- Didn't I tell you not to grab...
For me, it's-it's brilliant.
You know your cousin
that struggles with addiction.
And you know your cousins
that had to go live with an aunt.
And you know those cousins
only made it through high school
and became independent adults
because that aunt embraced them
and took them in.
Well, come by in the daylight.
Hell, don't come by at o' dark-thirty.
Madea, please.
Come on in here.
Who that is at the door?
- I'm getting tired of all these people...
- Shut up, Joe! I got this!
- I've been
- TYLER: The show started to take off.
- Loving you...
- And I was traveling from city to city,
seeing 99.999% Black people,
packed to the rafters.
he was performing 300 shows a year
for 30,000 people a week.
His plays toured in sold-out arenas along
the South's so-called "Chitlin Circuit."
a rich tradition of gospel theater,
and there's a rich tradition of
the chitlin circuit, a sort of Black
theater and performance history.

That circuit was so wonderful.
I mean, you had Josephine Baker
and Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald,
and all of these people who could not
perform in white establishments,
so they went on the road
and to all these little juke joints
with chicken fries and chitlins.
And they traveled the country,
and they became so famous
among their own people
that they were able to support themselves
and live well.
You were tired...
So in matters of the Chitlin Circuit,
for me, the spirit of it is
a very real and true spirit,
and I think he's genius to have done it.
He's standing on all of those shoulders.
He's a giant upon giant shoulders.

Can you do that one more time?
Yeah, just like that.
Yeah, just one more time!
With you, my life...
I was on the road from 1998 until 2004
doing 300-and-something performances
a year,
all over the country, end to end.
And before social media,
I'm out at the end of the show saying,
you know, "Sign up for my mailing list.
Here's my website."
People were like, "Your what?
Your www-what?"
And I had a few million people
following me on my website,
so I could send out an email
and sell out theaters and arenas
all over the country
before we even advertised anything.
CORSON: What Perry started doing
and has continued to do is that
he's put up the financial backing
for his own projects
and-and taken the risk if it went wrong.
It was a beautiful thing
for me to understand that
we had the power
to support and lift each other.
Because when I came on to the circuit,
no one was talking about
the things that were really plaguing us
as a community, like molestation and rape
and drug addiction, to this degree,
so I wanted to p-paint it
in a... in-in a frame
of making you laugh,
and laugh so hard
that you get so comfortable.
- At the end of the show,
I'm gonna take about 20 minutes,
and I'm gonna talk about what's
plaguing us and how we help each other.
What am I supposed to do now?
Get up and go on with your life.
It's all right to sit around,
be depressed for a minute,
cry about it, do whatever you have to,
but don't stay there too long.
Get up and go on with your life.
- MARK E. SWINTON: The biggest difference
between a Tyler Perry play
and a traditional theater or Broadway play
is that they cater to different audiences.
And I remember taking my mom
to Broadway plays
and was always excited to do that.
And I remember one day she said to me,
"I like going to the Broadway plays,
but I really like
going to see Tyler Perry plays."
And I remember I asked her why,
and she said, "Well, I feel safe there."
Well, Tyler Perry, we love you,
we love you, we love you.
- WOMAN: They love it and will.
- We love Madea.
CORSON: Some people kind of
look at-at Madea as...
a continuation of the-the fat suit,
uh, and the drag performance
that kind of emasculates
Black male performers.
Oh, that's wonderful.
I can't wait for Sherman
to bring me home some grandbabies.
You see this with Eddie Murphy.
You see this with Martin Lawrence.
Um, but it's doing something
much more nuanced and complicated.
It's not making fun of.
It is, um, kind of embodying with respect.
If Tyler Perry is the Tyler Perry
the producer, the director,
Tyler Perry not in drag
is a centerpiece of his brand,
then Madea is right there next to him,
So this character looms large in his work
and in the public interaction
with his work,
uh, both at the fan base level,
um, being that Madea is probably
the signature portion
of-of what people gravitate toward
or have gravitated toward
in appreciating Tyler Perry
and in the critiques.
Madea has got to be
the centerpiece of that as well.
So Madea is important.
Madea is a big part of
Tyler Perry's brand.
And now, New Orleans, Mr. Tyler Perry.
Tyler Perry is the center of his world.
He's the sun, he's the moon,
he's the entire universe,
and he's God himself.
He's the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.
Like, that's who he is for his work.
And, in doing so, it really is about him.
And when I say it's about him,
I want to actually make a shift
in how we understand this.
Yes, the representational politics
are problematic around women.
But if we peel back the disguise
even just a little bit,
if it's about Tyler Perry,
then it really is about patriarchy.
It's about Black patriarchy.
It's about toxic Black patriarchy.
It's about masculinity.
It's about the way that Black men
have not and continue to not understand
Black women's experiences,
even as they view up close.
In fact, we should be even weary.
You are so close
to Black women's experiences,
so close to the traumas,
and yet it's still illegible for you.
You still don't understand.
It is a man playing the character,
but this man is so good at understanding
this woman and women like her.
And as a man,
he validates a lot of women's feelings.
The Black woman component is an important
cultural voice out of our community,
because it is the truest representation
of leadership in our community.
Let's put the Black male
in a Black female dress and empower him
with the ability
to become the ultimate savior,
in order to empower
the victimized Black female body.
All of these things are abstractions.
None of these things are
actually about humanity.
None of these things are actually
about looking at each other.
So it's really not
the Diary of a Mad Black Woman
or-or an Angry Black Woman.
It's-it's the Diary of a Puppet.
I can only speak as... as what I am.
I'm a kind of poet.
And if I'm a kind of poet,
then I'm responsible
for my own point of view
to the people who produce me...
...and the people who will come after me.
CRITIC 1: ...understand why my grandmother
and my mother and my aunts
love this stuff, and my family down South,
why they love this stuff.
I just can't watch it without cringing.
CRITIC 2: His latest film,
I think he's crossed the line.
I mean, I see some kind of
misogynistic tendencies in there
that I don't know
what he's trying to work out on film.
Probably needs to work it out
in therapy in a hotel...
CRITIC 3: I noticed that
a whole lot of entertainers,
artists, they come from backgrounds
of pain and just abuse
and all kind of stuff.

Enoch, your father's just detoxed,
my calling is right on time
I must had a thousand lives
And like 3,000 wives
Jamie Foxx had to hang up the dress,
but Tyler Perry has become a billionaire
and still likes to put on a dress.
... on my mind and it's heavy
Tell you in pieces
'cause it's way too heavy...
How come Black Lives Matter
isn't out here protesting
the fact that another Black man
is dressing up as a woman
in order to make a buck?
- When there's no one to call
- Don't need no conversation...
- (BLEEP) you!
- Go out to the world
- and appeal to the masses.
He said to preach the gospel.
Preach the gospel of your sin and repent.
Jesus Christ...
(BLEEP) all y'all!
KENYA BARRIS: I feel like you have
figured out the beat of your own drum,
and that's what you dance to,
and it works for you.
You don't seem like you care.
I don't.
I don't know how you do it, man.
TYLER: Nina Simone said this,
and I never forgot it.
She said, "You will use up
everything you've got
trying to give everybody what they want."
My mother, she told me the value
of being who I am, of my Blackness.
She said, "Don't you ever
let anybody tell you who you are.
You know who you are.
You know where you come from."
I watched her stories,
I watched her struggles,
and I'm telling the stories
that I come from.
And that's why they're winning,
because people are recognizing themselves
in these stories.
No matter what the critics are saying,
"Oh, I don't get this (BLEEP).
I don't understand what it is."
I don't give a (BLEEP)
'cause I'm talking to us.
That's why millions of people are
watching my shows every week.
That's why people keep showing up
and sending the movies to number one.
I'm talking to us, connecting with us.
You know what I'm saying?
What you know about Black trauma?
F&N's kicking back is another genre
Tyler Perry,
the face of a thousand rappers
Tyler Perry, the face of
a thousand rappers
Tyler Perry,
the face of a thousand rappers.
Thanks, Tyler Perry.
You're welcome, Kenya Barris.
We doing government names?
- I just thought it was
a special moment, man. - Yeah.
So, in 2003,
uh, to my office there was a pile
of tapes and a note that says,
"I'd like to introduce you
to the work of Tyler Perry.
He's interested in making a movie."
So I thought, "Huh."
I called our home entertainment
department, and I said,
"Have you ever heard of Tyler Perry?
It seems he's done huge numbers on video."
And they're like, "Never heard of him."
And I said, "Could you call around and see
if anybody in the industry
knows who he is?"
Because how does someone do
that much revenue
and we've never heard of him?
Get a call back,
no one's ever heard of him.
Meantime, I had a diversity committee,
uh, that I would meet with
every now and then
and talk about what type of movies
were interesting to them
and who was interesting.
I start off the meeting saying,
"Who here has heard of Tyler Perry?"
Every Black person in the room,
their hand goes up.
No white people.
Like, there's something going on here.
INTERVIEWER: So you mentioned Lionsgate.
Was there a person there
that really was open-minded,
that was open to you?
Yeah, yeah, Mike Paseornek, hands...
hands down, was the guy who said,
"We need to do this with you."
PASEORNEK: So I called Charles and said,
"We'd love to meet with Tyler."
I was in, uh, L.A.
I just-just taped my very first movie.
I just filmed it,
and I'm so excited about it.
- I can't wait for you guys to see it.
It's Diary of a Mad Black Woman,
the movie.
- It's gonna be a wonderful,
wonderful, wonderful. - (CHEERING)
CORSON: When Diary of a Mad Black Woman
came out in 2005,
critical communities
had no idea who he was.
- Who are you?
- Who are you?
CORSON: This was a random movie
that was showing in the theaters,
that hadn't really been
advertised on television.
Hadn't come across their desk
in terms of, uh, screeners,
so they didn't know what this movie was.
So they just thought this... okay,
this is maybe some fly-by-night thing.
It was gonna make a couple hundred dollars
on each screen and go away.
- But when they saw the returns...
...they realized this film is much bigger,
and it had to have had a big audience.
The time that Tyler came to Lionsgate,
nobody knew the rocket ship
that landed on the front lawn.
But they certainly knew when it left.
It left a big impression.
It's crazy to think that
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
was number one movie in America
in 2005 on March 25th.
And on March 25th of 2022,
A Madea Homecoming was the number one
streaming movie in America.
This mother(BLEEP) is actually on fire.
So, 17 years later,
still the number one movie,
still people rushing out to see it
opening weekend.
And, Brown, you trying to close the trunk
while they, while they,
while they do it, okay?
- Okay.
- PALEN: It really stems back
to his relationship with his audience.
Run, Madea! Run, run!
PASEORNEK: Roger Ebert, you know, he wrote
this scathing review of his first movie,
and after the movie came out,
he had never gotten more emails
or-or messages saying
how wrong he was about this.
The people spoke.
So he said, "You know,
I'm gonna write another review."
But the thing that we talked about
that's amazing about Tyler
is he broke every rule.
PALEN: First conversation at the studio,
where a studio executive said to him,
"Black people don't go to the movies."
Like, they were just wrong on every count
when it came to Tyler.
And I think that a monster like Hollywood
has to sort of protect itself,
and one way it does that
is by being critical.
Problem is, Tyler just kept succeeding.
NEWSMAN: Its debut as a box office smash
was a shock to critics,
but not to the filmmaker and star
who claims Hollywood
has ignored the very audience
that is flocking to his movie.
Been a long journey, so...
- INTERVIEWER: It can be fast, huh?
- Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Oh, yeah. That's my world.
Perry made the film for about $5 million.
It pulled in ten times that
at the box office.
Perry got here refusing to play
by Hollywood's rules.
He demanded creative control
of his projects.
That first Friday, opening Friday,
and we were number one in the theaters,
I had to pull the car over.
In March 2004,
Tyler gave me his script for Diary.
By the summer, we were filming.
By the next February, it was
in the theaters opening at number one.
MORGAN: The whole town was talking
about it when his film opened number one
at the box office.
It was not expected.
They tried to do... there's something
called tracking in the film industry,
where they use a lot of data
and, um, research
to anticipate what the grosses are
gonna be that weekend.
And they had, like, grossly mismanaged it.
They had no idea what it was.
It surprised everybody,
and I thought it was awesome.
It was great.
Now big studios are listening
and taking note of this writer/producer's
diary of success.
What I think happened after Diary of
a Mad Black Woman hit at the box office
was this backtracking to figure out
who is Tyler Perry
and how did he get an audience
to show up for this film
that we've never heard of
and seemed like it was unimportant.
'Cause it was important,
and people did know him.
He just wasn't someone who was visible
within the normal venues.
EMANUEL: Well, the perception of Tyler
Perry was he was definitely an outsider.
I don't think people completely,
like, embraced or understood
his economic value.
Certain people did.
I recognized that it was hitting a nerve
and feeding a level and depth of, um...
understanding that,
um, regular media could... would-would
not even be able to comprehend.
You know, you're speaking to an audience
that has been underserved,
and in many cases
not served at all,
particularly when it comes to theater.
And so, uh,
it would be very hard for, you know,
regular mainstream media
to understand what was happening
in those theaters.
Particularly if you didn't grow up
in-in... in the Black church,
you didn't grow up in neighborhoods
where people are underserved,
you wouldn't know what was going on there.
His ability to speak to the audience
that now are his ride or dies,
speak to an audience that says,
you know, I hear you, I see you,
I feel you, I know who you are,
and let me, uh, help elevate your stories,
you know, he's done that
as well as anybody ever has.
What lots of white people forget,
there's an entire industry,
and always has been, of us.
People want entertainment,
and they will come out and see it.
They ignored all those folks.
But he did not,
'cause, you know, a whole bunch
of ten-dollar tickets
makes a lot of money.
Tyler Perry is living up to
some high expectations.
Madea's Family Reunion,
the sequel to Perry's surprise hit
Diary of a Mad Black Woman,
pulled in just over $30 million
to dominate the weekend box office.
The film took in $30.25 million...
NEWSWOMAN 3: ...hold on to the top spot
at the box office over the weekend...

Each artist should be allowed
to pursue their artistic endeavor,
but a lot of stuff that's out today
is coonery buffoonery.
We're-we're talking about
Tyler Perry at this point.
- No. No, I mean, now, look.
Is that in fact maybe
what Black America wants to see?
You know, you vote with your pocketbook,
your wallet.
You vote with your time,
sitting in front of the idiot box.
The man has a huge audience, and he's...
Tyler's very smart.
Church buses will pull up, packed.
Bought his own jet.
You know, you can buy a jet,
you got money.
For me, just the imagery
is-is-is troubling.
Is there a disappointment from you
as a director and an African American?
I don't think that
Tyler Perry entered
the creative marketplace
to save the Black community.
And if he did, I think...
...he would have actually
come fully armed.
Which he did not.
And I don't... I don't have any evidence.
And that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
It doesn't mean I'm correct.
It just means that
I don't see the evidence
that he entered this creative marketplace
armed and informed
with an intention to
really give something noble and valuable
to a Black/brown community.
I don't believe that.
ANDY NORMAN: It's definitely more hurtful
when it comes from your own community.
But his own community, at the same time,
is the one who has got him
to where he is now.
So it's not the whole community.
It's a few, you know, it's a few people.
But we love those people, too. (LAUGHS)
I think the most difficult part
in all of the success
wasn't battling Hollywood.
It was Black people.
There's a certain class of
Black people who look down
on all things Tyler Perry. (CHUCKLES)
When I start to look at the history of
what we've done to each other
as Black people
who... others who are successful,
it's pretty interesting to see.
Amos 'N Andy was
the first African Americans on television,
and it was the NAACP who boycotted,
the first television boycott ever.
So the show was yanked off the air
in 1953,
and there was not another Black cast
on television until the late 1960s.
The NAACP boycotted The Color Purple,
because of the depictation
of Black men in...
Alice Walker,
Black woman who wrote the story.
So they were picketing and boycotting
outside the Oscars.
Langston Hughes called Zora Neale Hurston
"a new version of the darkie,"
because she spoke from a Southern dialect
and she wrote in that dialect.
So I learned very early on that it's okay.
This is how it goes, no matter
how well or good your intention is,
no matter how many people it really lifts
out of despair and sadness.
It only matters to certain critics
if it is what they deem to be art.
What I will not do, and what I cannot do,
is change what I am, who I am,
what I've been called to do
and how I do it because someone,
some critics think that it's not art.
The audience is there.
He paid attention to an audience
that people ignored
and were saying, "Come up to us."
And he said, "No, I'm-I'm down here
with you," you know?
I'm gonna... we're gonna laugh at
the things that we laugh about
amongst family gatherings.
We're gonna make public the things
that we think are jovial.
You know, when you look at white comedy...
...they're allowed to do
the most ridiculous things,
and they never have to wear the burden of,
"You're making all Irish people look bad.
"You're making all Scottish people look...
you're making British people... You look..."
You know, Mel Brooks didn't worry about
making his culture look bad.
He worried about being funny.
And if it used anecdotal things
that he had ownership
or control over, it was permitted.
And Mr. Perry has done the same thing,
and he was genius in doing so.

Hold up, wait a minute,
y'all thought I was finished?
- When I bought that Aston Martin
- Hey! (LAUGHS)
Y'all thought it was rented?
Flexin' on these niggas,
I'm like Popeye on his spinach
Double M, yeah, that's my team,
Rozay the captain, I'm lieutenant
I'm the type to count a million cash
- Then grind like I'm broke
- Grind like I'm broke
That Lambo, my new ...,
she don't ride like my Ghost
I'm riding around my city
with my hand strapped on my toast
'Cause these niggas want me dead,
and I gotta make it back home
I love it.
- (ECHOES): Whoo.
Morning, everybody.
PASEORNEK: I don't know anybody
who's had a run like Tyler.
Let's look at the greatest directors
and the greatest actors.
They haven't had a 19, 20-film run
where their audience
just kept showing up every time.
I mean, this is historic.
Tyler had built a fanbase that you could
turn a switch on and they showed up.
Uh, gave him an advantage
over every other filmmaker out there.
What he's done that those others
didn't do was he segued it
into film and television,
and he controlled it.
The thing that's valued
in the entertainment industry
is owning something.
And what you own is pieces of paper
that give you rights to things.
And Tyler wanted to own all those rights,
even before he had any leverage.
Yeah, ownership was, from the get-go,
the most, I think, important thing
to Tyler, besides the creative,
because it gave him the full control
to do what he wanted to do.
Giving up ownership is not an option.
If I wrote it and produced it and
worked that hard on it, you can't own it.
Jay-Z has a lyric that says,
"You niggas out here taking advances,
but we over here taking real chances."
And it landed with me,
because I never wanted to be
a person that had to wait on someone
to give me a check, to say, "Okay,
go make something for your own people."
We won't go into the fine details,
but there was a lot of times people were
questioning the stories he was telling
or how he was telling 'em,
and he was saying, "Listen,
"just let me tap into my market.
I know my market.
Please don't tell me my market."
And they would always want to give him
some sort of note or critique,
and-and then they realized,
you know, he actually understands it.
Just get out of the way.
And, um, and it's true.
TYLER: And, listen, I'm not mad
at anybody who doesn't want to own.
Yeah, who doesn't want to take
the responsibility, 'cause it's hard work.
You work your ass off
when you're the owner.
And there's nobody, I mean nobody,
who would outwork me.
Nobody could outwork me.
James Brown would've bowed down.
One, two, get down...
I remember hearing stories very early on
when he was pitching his first TV show
to some Hollywood execs.
They wanted to give him a bunch of notes,
and, "Oh, we'll buy, you know,
a few episodes from you."
And he was like, "What?"
Like, "That's not what I'm doing."
The fact that that turned them off,
then that turned Tyler off.
And, in my opinion, it made him feel like,
"Well, how do I do this myself?"
And so, of course, Tyler being Tyler,
like, revolutionized
the entire model and created
an entire new way of selling television.
Look at me...
What you did in business was
you did a pilot.
If that pilot got picked up,
you hoped for 12 to 20 the next season.
If that worked, you'd get another 20.
So everybody wanted to get
to "a hundred" to get to syndication,
which meant that there was
long-range money in that and residuals.
I've paid the cost to be the boss...
He really pushed strong into TV.
He was groundbreaking
with his original series,
which he did as part of the 10/90 formula.
We do ten shows and pay for it.
If they hit a certain market share,
then the network agrees to buy 90 more.
MORGAN: Which then
immediately puts you into syndication.
Again, a great business deal.
That was unique to him,
and it was genius.
I knew that the traditional studios
would probably never go
for something like this.
You needed a boutique operation
in the syndication business
that was willing to take chances,
and most importantly,
that would give Tyler
the creative freedom
to do what he wanted to do.
And the other genius is Tyler owned it.
It was off to the races.
Also, which hadn't been done before...
but this is the beauty of
working with Tyler Perry...
Tyler was willing to put his own money
into producing those ten episodes...
I'm trying to get 10 ready to go
for TBS
at least the first 10. that not only would he own them
and have full creative control,
but if it worked,
he would have financial control.
And so, he decided to open his wallet
and put his own money in.
And that's when I went to Atlanta
and did the ten episodes of
House of Payne.
ITKIN: The deal was there was gonna be,
over a period of two weeks,
we're gonna test the ten shows
and then evaluate
what the next step would be.
Tyler Perry is a risk taker, so why not,
you know, take a chance?
- And we cut.
- ITKIN: The episodes go on the air.

And it's a very, very big success.
TYLER: The ratings were higher
than what was there before,
which shocked them.
They were like,
"Okay, what do you want to do?"
Somebody came and they offered 17.
They want 17 more.
Somebody wanted 26. I was like,
"I want 100 episodes
so I can be in syndication."
Mark went back to TBS, and they said,
"We'll take the 90 episodes."
That's where the 10/90 model came from.
AREU: And that was the first time
that had ever been done.
So a ten-episode pilot
that he personally financed himself,
and it was probably almost all of
the money that he had at that moment.
But, again, this is him
reinvesting in himself,
reinvesting in people,
reinvesting in the audience,
and understanding that,
"Hey, look, I'm going all in."
PASEORNEK: So, Tyler betted on himself
with television
and scored big with that.
You know, they're thinking, "Oh, well,
maybe he'll be okay for a few episodes,"
and it became, you know, one of the most
successful shows on cable of all time.
And, of course, they wanted
more than the initial hundred,
and that's where Tyler came up
with Meet the Browns.
I remember being so jealous. (LAUGHS)
'Cause I was at... by that point,
I was CEO of BET,
and all of a sudden,
Turner has these two shows by Tyler Perry
that are instant hits.
He saved my butt at OWN.
He really rescued me.
He volunteered and said,
"I can write you a show,
and I can make it a hit."
Have and Have Nots has been on so long
and doing so well in ratings.
I said to him the other day,
"It's like As The World Turns."
So there wouldn't have been Will Packer.
There wouldn't have been Ava DuVernay.
There wouldn't have been Greenleaf.
There wouldn't have been any of that
had Tyler not said,
"Here, let me help you."
We tried to do a deal with him long ago,
early on, before he went to OWN.
That Viacom deal was probably 12 years
from the first time we talked about it
to it actually happening.
DEBRA: Some of the folks at Viacom
thought his career would fizzle out.
Well, that proved to be wrong,
and he keeps coming up
with more and more ideas.
TYLER: When I walk into these companies,
I know what I have to bring.
And here I am, at the top of
all of this work that I've done,
and I'm able to say
I really appreciate all of
the good, the bad
and the ugly to get here.

Bless up, how you doing?
- DJ Khaled!
Great. One more. Let's get wide.
How long on Myles? Back up for me.
Get it.
GAYLE: I think Black people
in general are underestimated.
And so, here is Tyler Perry
making hit after hit after hit,
but it wasn't really respected,
I think, in Hollywood.
If there's one thing everybody respects,
it's money.
And people saw the Tyler Perry Studios,
and I think for the first time,
people went, "Whoa,
what-what does he do again?"
You know, they knew his name,
they might have been familiar
with some of his work,
but they looked at Tyler Perry Studios,
and there was no denying
the talent and the power of Tyler Perry.
You know, I had... I'd had
many studios that I thought "was it."
The first building was on Hoke Street.
I don't even think it was
three or four thousand square feet,
and I thought, "Oh, yes, this is
gonna be my movie studio."
I remember the first day
we were talking about
doing Diary of a Mad Black Woman there.
The producers walked in, they go,
"This is not enough room.
We can't do a movie out of this building."
I'm like, "Wait... (STAMMERS)
What-what do you mean?"
'Cause I had never done it before.
I bought a bigger building on Krog Street.
Moving in there,
there was not enough parking,
the neighbors were complaining every day,
and I was just forcing it
and forcing it and forcing it, and
tried to... I'm like, "This is the place.
This is gonna be it. Nope, this is it."
'Cause I had this thing
where I just only wanted to do
things that I could write a check for.
But sometimes
when you're going to higher levels,
you have to bill for where you're going
and not necessarily
where you think you are right now.
That message came to me as clear as day.
"You're too big to do it wrong."
So then to... leaving there
and going over to Greenbriar,
I'll never forget that night,
because my lawyer,
Larry Dingle at this time,
he called me up and said,
"I know you're having trouble
on Krog Street.
Please go look at this location
at Greenbriar."
And I'm standing in front of the gates
and I'm praying about it,
and I looked at the gates, and it's
Bible scriptures taped all over the gates.
And my favorite one was Psalms 91.
I was like, "Okay, if this ain't a sign,
I don't know what is."
Brick and mortar were always
the thing that I knew all my life.
I grew up in sawdust,
and if I can build a building
and own it and house everything in it...
the lights, the sound, the cameras,
if I can put it all in the room,
I know that eventually
owning this product,
getting to the other side of it,
not having profit right now,
but when it all came together
as this catalog,
it will be worth a tremendous amount.
And that's where we are.
REED: He believed in Atlanta's
film and entertainment community
ahead of the curve.
When I got sworn in January 4, 2010,
the motion picture and entertainment
business in Atlanta and Georgia
was about a $350 million business
that employed
seven to nine thousand employees.
When I left on January 2nd, 2018,
it was a $9.5 billion business
that employed more than 34,000 people.
The center of energy for all of that
started with Tyler Perry
and Tyler Perry Studios.
And every time you see a movie
with that peach logo on it,
uh, we ought to tip our hats to Tyler.
The grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios
included a lineup of stars
that impressed even the big man himself.
TYLER: I'm-I'm so excited that
Sidney Poitier is here, and Cicely Tyson,
and Oprah's on her way.
It's just, I am extremely excited
to have all of...
Ruby Dee, are you kidding me? Hank Aaron.
People who paved the way
so that this could happen.
He's steadfast and he's solid,
and he's no phony.
You can feel how real he is.
JOHN LEWIS: A young African American man
left New Orleans with very little
and pursued his dream
right here in the city.
Uh, you have to believe.
Really starting with nothing.
It's a... it's a truly powerful
American story.
REPORTER: In a magical moment
toward the end of the evening,
Tyler escorted the legendary Oscar winner
down the red carpet himself.
TYLER: And there's a moment
where Sidney Poitier is about to
dedicate the soundstage in his name,
and he's in tears, and
fireworks are going off in the distance.
And he points at me and I point back,
and he says, "You." I said, "No, you."
Ladies and gentlemen,
please join us in dedicating
the Sidney Poitier Soundstage.
In that moment, he comes down.
Oprah grabs him, they hug, and she said,
"What were you thinking up there?"
And he said, "I remember being at MGM,
where I was the only Black man allowed,
and the shoe shine man."
So now this Black man
and all of these Black people
are watching this moment.
It's kind of hard
to not make this about race
when it's so much about
the disenfranchisement
and what we had to battle
and what we had to fight.
So to be able to honor him and
give him that moment was phenomenal.

So, in the middle of all of this success,
I'm dealing with my mother slowly dying.

My mother was in a wheelchair
at the time, and she was like...
she couldn't see.
And I leaned down to her...
I leaned down to her
and I said, "Are you okay?"
She said, "Yes, everything is beautiful."
I said, "How do you know that?"
She said, "I can feel it."
"I can feel it." She could feel it.
This is a fantastic, incredible,
wonderful moment,
and, um...
Um, as I look around this room...
- It, uh...
Looking at my mother,
looking-looking at me.
- You-you see what your baby boy did?
So, for her to see that moment,
of her baby that had come through
all that bullshit, hand in hand with her,
that was good.
That was really good. It was a good night.
And I remember even before that,
Boyz II Men "Mama" came on the radio,
and she was driving somewhere.
And she calls me up, and it scared me,
w-when she got sick,
I-I was never able to turn my phone off.
It, uh, it stayed on 24/7,
the ringer on all the time.
And she-she was crying hysterically,
and I'm thinking,
"Okay, I got to get on a plane,
I got to..." (STAMMERS)
I'm like, "What is it?
What is it? What is it?"
And she was saying to me, "Thank you.
"Thank you.
If-if you wouldn't have made it through,
"even when I was telling you to stop,
I wouldn't be able to afford my medicine."
When she died...
...I couldn't find my way out of it.
Everything was dull.
Everything was missing something.
Everything. Nothing mattered.
And it was that way for...
...a long, long time.
Tyler was there when she passed.
All of her children were there, and, um...
it was hard, it was very hard,
'cause that was my baby.
You know, that's my girl.
I just left the room.
(CHUCKLES): I must have cried
for two or three days.
I have one regret in my life, just one.
It's my mother on her deathbed.
I was leaving, 'cause I had to go
back to Atlanta to do something,
and she just looked at me.
And I said, "I have to go,"
and she just... she said nothing.
She just would not stop staring at me.
And I felt like... and then she said,
"You know, I'm just so tired.
I'm so tired. I'm so tired."
I said, "No, no, it's all right."
And I'm... And I started doing
all the spiritual stuff and,
"No, God's gonna do g..."
(SIGHS) Talking her out of
what she was telling me.
And she said, "Okay, baby. Okay."
My one regret is that
I wished that I had sat there
and listened to what she wanted to say,
rather than me trying to think about
myself in the moment of losing her.
Let her be in the moment of telling me
all the things she wanted to say.
Yeah. One regret.
Tyler, I just want to tell you how much
it means to me,
how thankful I am, how blessed you are,
how blessed I am, to have a son like you.
Because so many children
wouldn't think about their parents
after they've come up.
And it's just amazing that he's doing
all these things for me.
I... You give your parents flowers
while they live.
I've gotten all my flowers.
TYLER: I was a little boy, and she tells
this story. I have this on video.
One day, we were coming from the country.
And she was driving.
And they had this Jaguar that pass by.
She said, "Ooh, that's a pretty car."
And I said, "Wow, that's a pretty car."
I said, "What, Mama?"
I remember ch... getting up on the seat
to see what she's talking about.
And she said, "That car."
And I said, "What kind of car is that?"
She said it was a Jaguar.
He said, "You know what?
"When I get big, I'm-a buy you a Jaguar.
And I'll buy you a house, too."
I said, "Okay, baby. Okay."
And she said, "Okay, baby. Okay."
One day, I was doing a play,
Mother's Day in New Orleans.
Called her up onstage
and gave her the keys to that car
in front of the audience.
Big moment for me, big moment for her.
She cried. It was beautiful.
Thank you, thank you.
How does that make you feel?
Made me feel good. It made me know
that I did the right thing.
But as a little boy,
watching all that she had gone through,
I wanted to do everything I could.
Making sure that she wasn't in pain.
Making sure that she had money
and could leave this man.
It was my whole desire.
And no matter how much money I had,
it wasn't enough
to make sure she had all she needed.
So, when she died, that s...
everything in me died.
I'm like, "What do I do with this now?
What do I..."
If I didn't have contracts
and things lined up,
that probably... that...
2009 would've probably been the end,
because... there was nothing
to keep m-making me want to
get out of bed and move through it.
I started drinking stupid heavy.
Um, and that lasted for a few years.
I'm just out here enjoying
this Mardi Gras, you know.
Wait a minute. Hold on. Hold on.
TYLER: No holiday meant anything
'cause she wasn't there.
Nobody meant anything
'cause she wasn't there.
And having Aman come along
and redefine all of that...
all right, what does that mean?
What does Christmas mean for him?
What does, mm, being born
right after Thanksgiving
and then, you know, Chr...
what does Christmas mean and New Year's,
and seeing his excitement in all of this
gave it a whole...
gave it a whole new, uh,
meaning in life, purpose and circle.
- Mm-hmm.
My prayer for him
when Gelila was pregnant was about,
"God, give him the best of me,
and anything that is the worst of me,
let it be buried with me."
I only wanted him to have
the best of me in his DNA.
I remember I was telling him
I love him one day,
when he was maybe about four,
four and a half.
And I told him
like ten different times that.
He said,
"Why do you keep telling me that?"
Because, uh, you know,
I wanted him to know
what that sounds like,
what that feels like
to have that from your father,
somebody to say, "I love you,"
and to hug you and to know
that you are-are special
and-and strong and powerful.
Is he still alive, your father?
- He is. He's still alive.
- And what kind of relationship
- do you have with him?
- We don't speak very much,
but I am taking care of him.
I make sure he has everything he needs.
Do you feel that he loved you?
No, never felt that. Never felt that.
I felt very strongly that
there was something there,
and I didn't know what it was,
and when I was about 30,
my mother told me
he never thought that I was his child.
- So...
- Really?
So that was another thing I didn't know,
which caused a lot of issues as well.
Y'all look mad. What the doctor say?
Some bad news, Brown?
- He's fine.
- Ask her, Cora.
Madea, who's my daddy?
- That is your daddy.
- I'm-a find out.
Dana tell you anything
you want to know. Call Dana.
- Who is Dana?
- Yeah, who is Dana?
Yeah, they both dumb as hell.
You don't know who Dana is?
They've been using Dana
to find people out for years
who the daddy or who the mama. Dana.
- CORA: We...
- D-N-A. DNA.
That's Dana. Lord, you so dumb.
We did a DNA test.
Well, results come back.
He's not my father.
And I felt a-a wave of, um, relief.
I was relieved because... image of a father was not
somebody who could do that to their child.
LUCKY: Uh, we're gonna be turning
real soon, right here.
- Uh, say, Uncle Emmitt.
That was me, Uncle Emmitt.
I don't give a (BLEEP) who it is.
Well, I apologize, baby.
EMMITT: Apologize my (BLEEP) ass.
Now get the (BLEEP) away from here.
- LUCKY: Uncle Emmitt.
- EMMITT: Get the (BLEEP) on.
Let's go.
Get the (BLEEP) on.
- I was coming to visit you, nigga.
- You stay the (BLEEP) out of here.
- I called you, Uncle Emmitt.
I was checking on you. I called you.
Now tow your (BLEEP) ass away from here.
You knew it was me, though, huh?
EMMITT: Yeah, I knew
who (BLEEP) it was, but you...
Yeah, that's what I'm saying.
Coming to try and talk to his daddy, man.
That's all it was.
I didn't mean no harm, baby.
How you gon' be like that?
You heard me?
You heard me, Uncle Emmitt?
Uncle Emmitt?

Has he ever said sorry?
No, he hasn't.
- He hasn't.
- Would you like him to?
At this point, I don't know if it matters.
I really don't know if it matters.
I was able to forgive him in my mid-20s,
and that changed my life.
Because what I did was, what-what
I think a lot of people don't realize
or understand is that
their parents have a story, too.
Now... So, whatever happened in your life
because of them has made...
And you really need to find out the story
so that you can understand it.
And what I found about...
He-he and his sister and his brother,
they were all found by a white man
in rural Louisiana, in a ditch.
He was two years old at the time.
He was brought to a 14-year-old woman
named Mae to raise.
Her father was bedridden, very old man,
who was a slave.
And everything that she knew to do
to get these children to behave
was to beat them.
(STAMMERS) She would tie them
in a potato sack, hang them in the tree,
and she would beat them.
So that's what his... that's what he knew.
That's what he came from.
- He'd been abused.
- Oh, I mean, he'd been abused
his entire life.
So it helped me to understand
a lot of who he is,
which made it easier for me
to let go and forgive him.
Hard to forgive that.
TYLER: It is, but it's very necessary,
because what I found that is this...
and this is so true...
If you do not forgive,
you hold on to this thing in-inside of you
that can change your life
and take you in the wrong direction.
Nine times out of ten,
the people that have done things to you
are asleep and at peace,
and you're holding on to it.
It can really, literally,
become sickness in your body
and make you physically ill.
So I think that
forgiveness is beyond important.
You support him?
Absolutely, 100%.
As a child, he wasn't a great father,
but he was a great provider,
and he had an incredible work ethic.
So he definitely gave me my work ethic.
Hold the work. Let me concentrate.
Well, his work ethic is...
I-I still don't understand
how he works at the speed that he does.
You know, I've never worked for him,
but I hear Tyler Perry's tough.
- Let's roll, let's roll, let's roll.
I hear Tyler Perry ask a lot of his cast.
But I also know this:
Tyler Perry doesn't ask anything
of anybody else
that he's not asking of himself.

Don't have your hat backwards in here,
you understand?
- Turn it around. I'm just kidding.
I started off as a production assistant.
In my first time working with him,
he had never done a movie before.
He just streamlined a bunch of stuff.
I want to see all that.
Give me two Steadicams
and get the antennas close.
- I'm ready to roll.
- And a lot of people didn't get it.
When I say, "Bring the energy," I'm...

Sorry, guys, hold up. Nobody shoot.
Oprah wants to talk to me.
You all are shooting that in 4 days!?
We're shooting an episode a day, yeah.
DOOSE: It's extremely nontraditional
for everybody.
And you had to be ready to go.
Like, there was no downtime.
4,000 pages of content a year sometimes.
60, 80, 90 episodes of TV,
two, three features,
and that's Tyler actually writing 'em.
TYLER: People ask,
"How do you shoot a movie so quickly?
How do you shoot television so quickly?"
When I walk in on the set,
when I'm watching an actor act,
I'm seeing all the cuts in my head.
So I will roll and do everything,
moving the camera in every position,
no matter how close, how tight I want it.
Once the lighting's set up,
I'm ready to go.
You just have to trust the process,
and I've got a really good team
that helps me to do that.
Good job, guys. We got it.
Nobody does what we do right here.
He does what nobody else can do.
TYLER: And just from the time I-I saw
the first process of a movie being made,
I just didn't understand
the ridiculous amount of waste.
Millions of dollars of wrong, bad choices.
We could feed a nation on the waste I see.
TYLER: Standing there with
your fingers twiddling, talking about,
"What if we..." What the (BLEEP)
you talking about, "what if we"?
You should've figured out "what if we"
before you got your ass here.
The "what if wes" are gone.
You're on set now. The money's burning.
Work that out before the monies is spent,
checks written.
That's what I think. (SCOFFS)
I always say that Tyler accomplishes more
in one day than most of us in a lifetime.
Had a conversation with Tyler
outside of the office.
I hear him whispering to me on the phone.
He's in a hushed voice.
And we're talking about what,
you know, I'm gonna shoot Tuesday,
and we'll do this and we'll do...
And I'm like,
"Tyler, where are you?"
And he says, "I got to go,"
and then I hear the Madea voice,
and he walks out onto stage.
He was having a business meeting with me
from backstage.
Well, who can multitask like that?
That's what Tyler does.
NORMAN: I always tell people
that this train will keep on running
whether you get on it or you get ran over.
So the question is
you have to jump on board
or you get ran over or pushed out the way.
His legacy will always be picked apart.
Everybody has a opinion.
Everybody has a voice.
Some criticism is good. Some is bad.
I don't think it'll ever stop,
but it's not gonna stop him either.
Are you a revenge guy?
Or are you a forgive and forget guy?
I'm a "forgive and forget,
but don't (BLEEP) with me" guy.
GAYLE: Some of the biggest names we know
can say that they got their start
because Tyler Perry gave them a break.
That is no small thing.
All the negativity hit me right and left
about how he should be this
and he sh... he's that,
he's horrible, he's a...
Just kept my eyes on the prize.
Media titan Tyler Perry is one of
Hollywood's most prolific power players.
PITTS: What filmmaker has had
five movies open number one
at the box office in the last four years?
This record belongs to Tyler Perry.
This is gonna be good!

The entertainment icon is the mastermind
behind dozens of movies, plays
and TV shows.
LARRY KING: Forbes Magazine named him
the number three top earning Black star,
grossing 125 million dollars a year.
MEREDITH VIERA: ...movies have taken in
more than $400 million at the box office
in the past five years.
873 million worldwide...
REPORTER 2: pelcula, A Madea Christmas.
AREU: Tyler was making hit after hit
after hit after hit.
And finally people had to wake up.
Tyler Perry is completely unique.
And so, you interface with him and his
business in a completely different way.
You know, I still go back to
the conversation I had
when the pandemic started.
Media mogul Tyler Perry
made headlines recently
when he announced that his studio
would resume production.
I have 360 employees or so on these shows
who are taking care of their families
and who needed to work.
I couldn't wait around for a plan.
I had to do something.
Tyler believes.
Maybe it's his faith,
maybe it's his history,
but his strength and his belief of self...
...moves people.
Moved me.
NEWSMAN: Tyler Perry, the award-winning
actor, writer, producer, director,
and author is a bona fide studio mogul,
and that story is far from over.
TYLER: When I built my studio, I built it
in a neighborhood that is one of
the poorest Black neighborhoods in Atlanta
so that young Black kids can see
that a Black man did that,
and they can do it, too.
The studio was once
a Confederate Army base,
which meant that there was
Confederate soldiers on that base
plotting and planning on
how to keep 3.9 million Negroes enslaved.
Now that land is owned by one Negro.
I love you, guys. Thank you.
What is this? What are we looking at?
We're looking at Ford McPherson,
which is gonna be Tyler Perry Studios.
- The new Tyler Perry Studio.
- The new Tyler Perry...
- The ultimate Tyler Perry Studio.
- Yes.
- And how excited are you?
- I'm really excited.
It's, um... it's overwhelming.
But what I feel is gonna happen here
is gonna be magical,
so I'm very excited.

You have no idea what it is like
to acquire an asset
from the United States Army.
Things that you would need to do
in a traditional real estate transaction,
the Army will just tell them,
"We won't do it."
But I was mayor when this place was empty.
You think of Ford McPherson
being left vacant,
this was a situation
that could have gone very, very badly
and pulled down
an entire community of working people.
Because of what he's done
on Fort McPherson,
a quarter of a billion dollar investment
in a military base,
the city has an opportunity to benefit
because he's brought all of the property
values in the entire corridor up.
And so, he's just a constant giver.
The signal sender that this facility is
to the entire motion picture business,
the quality of relationships
that he brings onto this campus,
this base, is exactly in the hands
that it should be.
Welcome to the first day
of shooting here at...
- WOMAN: Yes!
- ...Tyler Perry Studios.
And I can't tell you what it meant to me
that I gave the keys to this base
to a Black man.

It was a star-studded night Saturday
as celebrities flooded Atlanta
to celebrate the grand opening
of Tyler Perry Studios.
The studio... 330 acres...
sits on the grounds of
the former Fort McPherson army base
in southwest Atlanta.
Tyler Perry, known as the most successful
African American filmmaker... history.
And this is my gift?
- We love you, and we're proud of you.
- Aw.
Try not to cry.
Thank you. This is beautiful.
I'm gonna wear these tonight.
I'm gonna throw away this ribbon
for you, ok?
I have other cuff links,
but none as special as this.
This is real...
these are really, really special.
- I'll have them forever and ever.
- That's for you, Papa.
- Thank you.
- You can keep it-
And you can keep the card and the picture.
It says, "I love you, Papa."
Thank you, my love. Can I get a hug?
Ah, so wonderful.
I always felt that, for people of color,
Tyler has a Disney-like quality.

HOBSON: The thing that is so remarkable
about Tyler's story,
he has this twin brain:
creative and business.
Very few people have it.
It was so easy for me to know
that he was the right person to be
the steward for Fort McPherson.
My husband, George Lucas,
did the exact same thing.
He established his studio
outside of the Hollywood system,
and it gives me a lot of perspective
on what Tyler was up against.
And George did it as a white man,
and it was really hard.
And Tyler has done this as a Black man.
(LAUGHS) You first...
you got to look in the mirror and have
an honest conversation with yourself.
Until Mr. Perry and this studio,
pretty much you had to go to white folk.
But he figured out that there's a place
I can do what I want to do,
and he is the tip of the spear
that proved we can do it.

The grand opening was amazing.
It was a Black reunion.
Colin Kaepernick, Cicely Tyson,
Jay-Z, Beyonc.
That was very much the feeling
that we deserve as a culture.
Tonight was a monumental night,
not just for Tyler Perry
but for everyone here in Atlanta.
Superfans! (WE'RE FANS!)
We're stargazers!
This is just incredible.
And particularly for him to be in Atlanta.
- MAN: Yes.
- Like, this is civil rights.
This is movement. This is everything.
Rise up, Tyler Perry, rise up!
REPORTER 2: Your name is now
on a soundstage at Tyler Perry Studios.
What does that feel like?
I never thought a Black man would own
a studio, a massive studio like this.
Tyler has an acumen and a determination
that's greater than most of us have.
That's right, yeah. That's right, brother.
Tonight means about inspiration.
And tonight means how many people
can I cause to dream bigger.
If that happens tonight,
then I did what I was supposed to do.
Thank you. Thank you.
SPIKE: This is monumental, 'cause what
he's done has never been done before.
A Black man and do that?
It's a beautiful Black thing.
OPRAH: It's not just important
for the Black culture.
It's important for culture.
Tyler Perry, who said,
"I won't ask you for your money.
I won't ask you for your studios."
He did it his way.
- Take a breath.
- Yeah, no, I'm good.
I'm just, like... want to
get through this next moment.
All right, ready?
Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
You know me.
I'm sneaky and I wanna look.
- Yeah, yeah. - I took my private tour
the day I came in here.
God blessed you, man.
- Didn't he do it?
- Amazing.
When people see me and you together...
It's powerful!
Come on, man.
Let's get this legendary joint.
Black Excellence right here.
That is so cool.
I got stories to tell you.
What's up, baby?
TYLER: Wow, look at you in your tux.
We got our bow ties on.
Looking good. Looking good.
Walk around with me?

How are you?
- MAN: Is Tyler right next to me?
- I just got to... I just got to...
I just got a whole other thing.
What's up, man?
How you doing, man? Let's-let's...
- Want to step out?
- Yeah, we're gonna get it started.
WHOOPI: I got to the studio,
and it says, "Tyler Perry Studios,"
and I was like, "Wait a minute."
And then I realized I've met
the first Black owner of a movie studio.
Not just of a movie studio,
of the movie studio
that beats just about
every other studio in Hollywood.
He say, "You know,
I'm gonna name a soundstage after you."
The Whoopi Goldberg Soundstage.
Not to be a bitch or anything,
but it'll never happen in L.A.
I'm not that to them.
But it made me understand that,
if I went tomorrow,
the movie business is in good hands.
I want to thank all the honorees
for lending their name
to this historic moment.
400 years this year.
This is also the year of Jubilee,
and for this moment to happen
and happen for me is beyond anything
I could have ever imagined.
We all have a destiny.
We all have ancestors
and people who have prayed for us,
people who've endured all kinds of things
so that we could stand in this position.
I want you to think about this.
Why are you here?
What is this moment for?
It ain't just about a party.
It's about a dream in you
that we all get to stand here,
everybody represented equally.
This is what America is,
as a people's destiny
are tied into your dream.

BISHOP JAKES: Young people,
it don't happen the first day.
Don't be upset
if it doesn't happen when you're 20,
and it didn't happen when you were 25,
and it didn't happen
when you thought it was gonna happen.
That doesn't mean
it's not going to happen.
You see Tyler now,
but you didn't see him then.
Tyler is 50 years old.
- Greatness takes a while.
Greatness takes a while.
Greatness takes a while.
Greatness takes a while.
You can't get there overnight.
But if you withstand the storm,
and the attack and the tests
and the winds and the wave,
something good is
going to come out of this.
God opens up a door.
An amazing door, and
somebody finally hears you or sees you
or notices you,
and they open up a door for you.
And I want to thank Tyler Perry
for not stopping
at having a door for yourself.
But your door is our platform.
You opened up a door so that people
who would never get noticed anywhere else
could walk through and have a chance,
and that deserves a clap
and that deserves a shout,
and that deserves emulating and imitating.
That deserves praising God.
But you floated on top of
what other people drowned in,
and if you never succeed,
you ought to shout because you survived.
You must be willing first to be a survivor
before you can be successful.
Everything that went wrong in your life
is what made everything go right
in your life.
I, uh...

I just, uh...
My entire intention,
Gelila and I both, is just to raise
a good, amazing, wonderful person,
...incredible, who honors God,
who... (SNIFFLES)
I just realized it was 11 years ago,
I was sitting there when I did this...
I was with my mother, who died in 2009.
And now I'm here with him, and-and...
There is a circle of life that goes on.
I done forgot
everything I'm supposed to say.
But thank you to everybody...
God protected Tyler in the essence of,
"Be still. Have peace.
I got you covered.
You know, I'm protecting you."
So he brought him through all that stuff
to bring him to where he's at today
and who he is today,
because in order to endure all that pain
and suffering and chaos,
God got to have something
in store for you.
How great
Is our God
Sing with me
How great
Is our God
All will see
How great...
Do not play him small,
because he is not just
some lucky, rich Negro turned Black man.
To take what he saw as an opportunity
to reach a group of people
and to turn that into this soon-to-be
multibillion-dollar enterprise
is what everybody else is trying to do.
I think it's an important story to tell,
because folks need to understand that
how hard he works
and how hard all of this is
to create the opportunities,
that now, really,
the world is just catching up with.
And let's remember, the audience decides.
It's not the critics.
It's not a bunch of intellectuals.
It's the audience that decides:
Is this good or is this bad?
And I challenge anyone
to come up with the same run of success
that this man has had.
TYLER: Thank you, everybody,
for all your hard work.
I am beyond moved. I am inspired.
My hope beyond anything
is that you caught it.
Some people who worked with me
20 years ago may know what that means,
because there's a wave
that's been happening for a long time.
And I've watched the ones that catch it go
and do amazing things, with or without me.
So I hope you caught it.
I hope you've honored it.
I hope you realize how delicate it is,
how fleeting it is, how it's like dust...
can be gone in a second.
I hope you just saw it.
'Cause it's so pure. It's so special.
It's nothing but God.
There's some people in this room
who have tremendous talents,
and they are just amazing at what they do,
but there's some things going on
in their lives that,
if they could ever connect their pain
to what their gift is,
that gift would change
and shift into something else
that would not only be the bridge
that brings them over
but could bring others over with them.
A lot of us go through things.
He went through some stuff, man,
that could've destroyed him.
It could've destroyed him psychologically
where he went under the bridge
in a cardboard box
and disappeared off the planet
because of what he had been through.
But he didn't do that. He was resilient.
He did the opposite.
He fought the demons.
He fought the naysayers,
the dream snatchers,
the haters, the people that was opposing.
People saying, "You're not gonna become."
"I have to become."
And he became.
Why do you work so hard?
Why do I work so hard?
Because I want you to have
a really good future,
and I want us to have a really good life.
And we can travel and have fun
and help other people.
So, don't you think that's a good idea?
- Mm-hmm.
- Okay.
- AMAN: And you're my hero.
- TYLER: I'm your hero?
Aw. Love you. You're my hero.
- Appreciate that, baby. I love you.
- AMAN: You, too.
Always on to the next thing.
You live in the moment,
but you plan ahead.
Focused on the next step,
thinking about the next step,
but you're in the moment.
That doesn't mean you're unsatisfied.
That just means that there's always
something that you feel is left to do.
For me, anyway.
This is empty, and I'm done.
MAN: Well, if you can,
if you could just look right here
and say your name and who you are.
You don't know I'm Tyler Perry?
I know who you are, but I want to know...
who you think you are.
Do you think you're a director?
What-what defines you?
"I'm Tyler Perry, and I'm a father.
I'm..." Whatever you want to say.
I'm Tyler Perry, and I'm Maxine's baby.
Mama, mama
- You know I love you
- You know I love you
You know I love you
- Ooh
- Mama
You're the queen of my heart
You are
Your love is like tears from the stars
Your love is like
tears from the stars
- Mama, I just want you to know
- Mama, I just want you to know
Loving you is like food to my soul
Loving you is like food to my soul
You are the food to my soul
Yes, you are.