Image of Tyler Perry playing his character Madea

Is Tyler Perry Losing His Touch?

Though this world-renowned producer quickly rose to the top of the film industry, could his small mistakes ruin everything that he has worked so hard to build?
December 10, 2021
7 mins read

How many people would be willing to support a film director and producer who chooses quantity over quality when it comes to their work? The truth is, it may be more people than you think. Many audiences have continued to support well-known producer Tyler Perry for years even after finding out that a lot of his projects are rushed.

Perry has become a renowned actor, producer, screenwriter, director and published author over the years. New followers may not be aware of how Perry’s career began, but his day-one supporters remember his days of putting on comedic, faith-based musicals. Without knowing the struggles that Perry has faced throughout his life, many may not be able to relate to his work or understand why he takes the approach that he does with his projects.

In 1969, Perry, whose original name was Emmitt Perry Jr., was one of four children born to Willie Maxine Perry and Emmitt Perry Sr. in New Orleans. His father, a functional alcoholic, was a carpenter, and his mother was a preschool teacher.

Throughout his childhood, Perry suffered extensive physical, mental and verbal abuse by his father. During one incident, his father beat him with a vacuum cord until welts appeared on his back. Another time, Perry blacked out for three days after his father tackled him to the ground and continued to mercilessly beat him. It has since been revealed that the man who brought him so much pain is not Perry’s biological father, but back then, his abuser was the only father figure he knew.

In addition to the harm inflicted upon him by his father, Perry was sexually assaulted before the age of 10 by four different adults in his life who he should have been able to trust to protect him rather than take advantage of him. During a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Perry revealed that, at one point in his childhood, his father’s mistreatment and his additional burdens caused Perry to attempt suicide because he saw no point in living.

However, to this day, the well-established creator credits his late mother for being a major reason that he is still alive. “She didn’t have millions of dollars, she didn’t have a legacy to leave, but she gave me Jesus to be able to pray,” Perry said of his mother during an interview on “Love & Respect With Killer Mike.”

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His mother took him to church every week, and his faith in God and prayer helped Perry to push through the abuse, neglect and trauma that he was forced to withstand throughout his childhood. In 1990, the ambitious creator moved to Atlanta in hopes of launching “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” one of the plays that he had written. The play was not the success that Perry was hoping for at first, and he eventually became homeless and lived out of his car for a while. Though he became discouraged, he remained relentless. He reworked his script and continued to put on the play until he was performing for sellout crowds. It was the play that changed Perry’s life forever.

To date, the now prominent filmmaker has developed more than 20 plays, 17 films and seven television shows. The majority of his projects feature central themes of pain, neglect, forgiveness, self-love, broken relationships, faith and redemption — topics that are all too familiar to Perry. Many people have complained about the repeat storylines and inconsistent quality of his work, but he has his reasons just like every other creator in the film industry has their way of making their content their own.

In terms of the self-made filmmaker’s decision to incorporate similar subject matters into each of his projects, they reflect a lot of what he witnessed growing up as well as themes he feels would be most relatable and enjoyable for African Americans, who are his main target audience. Some would say that Perry’s portrayals of Black women in his projects are outrageous and offensive, but whether people like to see it or not, the storylines are real.

Navigating how to be a single parent, trying to escape abusive ties, dealing with parents who try to live through their children and finding the courage to build healthy relationships after enduring trauma are very real issues that so many women deal with. Growing up, Perry witnessed the women in his life cope with the hardships that he incorporates into his films. By displaying Black women in such a vulnerable light and giving them a happy ending, Perry pays homage to the women in his life who maintained their strength despite the heartache they suffered behind closed doors.

Then, there is the questionable quality of the famous creator’s work. In several of Perry’s films, fans have noticed some obvious editing errors, especially in one of his most recent films, “A Fall From Grace.” While the film itself had a solid storyline with unexpected reveals throughout, supporters and critics alike were able to point out several editing errors.

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However, Perry’s start with producing live plays may be a contributing factor to the production mistakes present in his films. During his live plays, actors and actresses would sometimes go off script and do what they felt was right. There were times during some of his live plays that Perry and his cast would break out into laughter even if it was not in the script, but it was acceptable since it was a live show created to make the audience laugh and let everyone come together and have a good time. Oftentimes, members of the plays would wear low-quality wigs, and the microphones would hang out of the front of the wigs.

The filmmaker is also self-taught. He did not attend school for film. He did not have a mentor before getting into the industry. He has been used to doing everything on his own since he got his big film industry break. Today, Perry still writes all of his scripts himself and has begun to rush the production of his projects, which may also contribute to the decreased quality of his work. A project that may take someone as thorough as Ava DuVernay a year to produce, may only take Perry half that time. “Bruh” is only one of Perry’s newest television series, and somehow, Perry managed to film 19 episodes of the series in just four days. While likely not ideal and probably stressful for his cast members, Perry takes his craft seriously.

Despite any complaints that the successful filmmaker may receive, his 330-acre production company, Tyler Perry Studios, and every individual to whom he has provided job opportunities are proof that Perry is still relevant in the film community. If small editing mistakes have not ended his career at this point, it is unlikely that they will ever negatively impact his status as a creator.

Re’nesia Mills, University of Tampa

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Re’nesia Mills

University of Tampa
Journalism major, minor in Communication

Re’nesia recently graduated from the University of Tampa and is hoping to soon begin graduate school. Her goal is to one day become an investigative news reporter.

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