Tyler Perry’s Roller Coaster Ride To Success


Maya McCall '20

Playwright, actor, producer, director and more… Not many can achieve this many titles. One man who has admiringly done so is, Tyler Perry.

Born Emmitt Perry, Jr., on  September 13, 1969, he has changed the way African Americans are portrayed on the big screen forever. Perry, like many others, was heavily influenced by none other than Oprah Winfrey. He heard her say that recounting personal experiences through writing can be “cathartic”. Afterwards, he began to keep a journal which eventually led to his first play, I Know I’ve Been Changed. It is important to note that Perry put on this play entirely by himself. He participated in odd jobs to earn money for staging, and the production led to zero success and eventually sent Perry into poverty.

Despite this outcome, Tyler never gave up and soon began writing and producing feature films, the first being Diary of a Mad Black woman.

Perry has directed and produced films that began as plays, including: Madea’s Family Reunion (2002; film 2006), Madea’s Class Reunion (2003), Madea Goes to Jail (2005; film 2009), Madea’s Big Happy Family (2010; film 2011), A Madea Christmas (2011; film 2013) and Madea’s Neighbors from Hell (2014).

Madea, the character in which the majority of Tyler Perry’s film are centered around is Perry himself in drag. According to Perry, she is “the brutally honest, rambunctious gun-toting grandmother, whose name comes from the frequent African American contraction of ‘Mother Dear’.” Audience have consistently fallen in love with her and her sass.

Despite his tumultuous start to his career, Tyler Perry has shaped the way people discuss controversial subjects among African Americans. Many of his films tackle domestic violence, murder, abandonment and overall, the importance of family.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Facts courtesy of brittanica.com.