North Texas Daily

Tyler Perry is a modern-day superhero

Tyler Perry is a modern-day superhero

Tyler Perry is a modern-day superhero
November 07
12:19 2019

Tyler Perry, the genius architect behind 17 feature films, 20 stage plays, seven television shows and more, has amassed an empire out of his incredible accolades.

Perry’s life story is purely that of the American dream. Born and raised in New Orleans, Perry’s childhood was filled with poverty and abuse. Following the advice he heard on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, he began writing letters to himself that eventually became a sanctuary in his hard life. These letters inspired his first play titled “I Know I’ve Been Changed” about survivors of child abuse. He would go on to create many more plays as well as films and television shows that would earn him a prominent place in his field of work.

Now, Perry’s most recent achievement has made history in the world of cinematic innovations and black Hollywood.

Included in many of his projects, Perry’s most famous character played by himself, Madea is a force to be reckoned with. Debuted as Mabel Earlene “Madea” Simmons, the iconic character placed Perry’s work in the living rooms of many African American families and became comedic relief for the black community. Perry portrayed Madea in a multitude of films and plays that occurred between 1999 with, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” to the final installment of what would become a twenty-year-long franchise in 2019 with, “A Madea Family Funeral.” Madea, as well as his other significant works such as “For Colored Girls,” are a reflection of Perry’s strong and admirable work ethic.

Before he was able to sell-out plays, have top-grossing films and a community of loyal followers that support his work, Perry endured homelessness in the midst of chasing his dreams. The movie mogul once told Oprah that he became homeless on and off for six years where he lived in his car and sometimes in a “pay-by-the-week hotel that was full of crackheads.” His incredible work ethic and determination to make his dreams a reality is what put him where he is today. In his best selling book, “Higher Is Waiting,” Perry explains that his “childhood was a story of discouragement, belittlement, and unthinkable abuse, and yet [he] rose above.”

His faith and testimony helped him stay true to his ambitions despite the many battles he faced during his journey to his current chapter in life where he “embodies what the African American dream truly is,” as stated by actress Taraji P. Henson when she presented him with the 2019 BET Icon Award.

The inspiration he received from his mother, Oprah and other black women to chase after what he wanted, led him to the desire of lending a hand to hopeful black actors and actresses in the birth of their careers. Perry has opened doors for many of the significant black actors and actresses we celebrate today such as Tessa Thompson, Taraji P. Henson, Idris Elba, Viola Davis and many more.

In his 2019 BET Icon acceptance speech, Perry says that “God blessed [him] to be in a position to be able to hire and help many black artists cross the bridge to success in a space where they were held back because they couldn’t get jobs.”

His next endeavor in elevating black Hollywood is a highway sign in Atlanta dedicated to the “Tyler Perry Studios.” The sign next to it points to “Sylvan Road,”  the place where Perry lived in his car when he was homeless. According to the Tyler Perry website, the 330-acre lot studio encompasses forty different buildings, twelve sound stages, 200 acres of land and a diverse backlot. The lot has a very meaningful history as it was once a confederate army base named Fort McPherson.

“And, I want you to hear this, 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,” Perry said during his BET Icon award acceptance speech. This is immensely symbolic of how far African Americans have come in a land that has constantly mistreated them.

With the Tyler Perry Studios, Perry promises to continue to create and enable other black dreamers to create projects that depict the black community with their own resources, instead of struggling to find work and acceptance in a majorily white industry.

Tyler Perry’s goodwill travels far beyond the film industry as he also inspires countless little black children to chase after their dreams and aspirations. Perry is among the few superheroes that black youth have to look up to as a role model. This is very significant because it encourages and builds determination in those that need a push to start turning their dreams to reality.

Perry’s plans continue to go far beyond filmmaking by aiding his community by building a “compound for the homeless, trafficked women and displaced LGBTQ youth” included in the space where his studio is.

Perry continues to be a strong voice for the underrepresented and he showcases that through his work in the film industry and humanitarian work.

Featured Illustration: Kylie Phillips

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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