Tyler Perry is a billionaire and without question, the odds were absolutely against him. Initially homeless after taking his life savings and investing it into his first play he was determined not to give up.
He is a Black man making films and building an empire which in Hollywood is an anomaly. He is a Black man who has completely gone against the grain of Hollywood’s elite in the vain of doing what he feels is right, he has certainly garnered (not made) naysayers and enemies. Enemies who often want to control the thinking, the spending, and the dumbing down of the black culture.
Unfortunately, some of those naysayers and enemies have come from the black culture too. Huey Newton said the first thing a revolutionary must realize is that he is a doomed man. But Tyler Perry is not doomed because he is protected by his fan base. He helps others in distress and he never comes off as angry or as an opportunist. Anger is the catalyst to getting Black men and women pointed at as the antagonists. Another tool that has been used against Black culture for control.
Tyler Perry KNEW what it was like to sleep in his car and be homeless. He knew what it was like to be physically abused as a child and he knew what it was like to be rejected. He has at one point or another, used all of that pain as a way to get his message across and in the process become an icon then a billionaire as his fans can connect with his journey..
Hollywood powerbrokers have had to acquiesce to Tyler’s refusal to buy the BS they have been handing down for decades about Black films but it doesn’t matter because his goal was to build a black entertainment empire for black people not to continue to make Hollywood more money. Therefore he established his footing in Atlanta, a once untapped largely black populated market as the home of his entertainment business. In the process, he was protected from most of Hollywood’s influence to shut him down. Many have come before Tyler but few had the business savvy and the desire to accomplish a greater goal than simply making a film. Tyler wanted to create longstanding opportunities for others as well.
There are those who criticize Tyler from the black culture for putting on a dress and playing Madea but the difference is he didn’t put on the dress because Hollywood asked him to, he created a character that his base could relate to. Black women have always been the glue that has held the black community together.
Any of us who grew up poor saw how black women formed a community for each other when black men were absent or in prison. This is not to say that it was all the fault of black men, racism certainly played a HUGE part in their absence but Black women still came to the rescue, watching each other’s children, grandmothers, aunts, and daughters were taught to take care of the household and the burden was heavy, Tyler had often been criticized for protecting black women more than black men.
The black community has the greatest respect for black women, especially mother figures. Had Tyler played a male character to get his point across, his success would have been short-lived and limited. He did what he thought was best for his plan and whether you like his movies or not, it doesn’t matter.
He’s not making them for everybody, he’s making the movies for his fans. Here are 10 brilliant things about Tyler Perry in our Black Top 10 segment
Never Allow Research and People Outside of Your Culture tell you ABOUT Your Culture
There are those in the black community who are stuck on white people’s ice always being colder and we have been misled for decades by feigned research by people who are not a part of the community and who to have their own middleman motives to drive black thinking. NOBODY knows black people better than BLACK PEOPLE.
Tyler knew this and he refused to buy Hollywood’s crock of sh about having white people in his movies as leads in order for them to be successful. He hired who he WANTED to hire and the Black experience RARELY involved white people in everyday life so he knew his audience would not buy it.
When he was turned down by every major studio for his projects Lionsgate took a chance on him and allowed him to do his project the way he wanted to. In the process, he proved Hollywood wrong and put Lionsgate on the map. He has been loyal to them for years even then those big studios who said no realized he knew better and could have successful films without them.
Super Serve Your Audience
Tyler Perry does just that. People have gotten on his case for all the Madea movies but that’s what his base wants. Not just the character but the humor and the chemistry with the other actors on the set. The audience is loyal and they know when they are being duped.
Another great example is In Living Color in the early 90s. Keenan Ivory Wayans had a super successful formula that worked great and a consistently growing fan base. When the white producers started giving him a hard time he left, they thought they could pull it off by keeping many of the same characters but once Keenan left, the show was HORRIBLE and died a rapid death. Who was going to harass and fire Tyler? He owned the company and his rights. Which is our next point.
Own it and stop asking for a Piece of what Someone Else Owns
There is nothing worse than begging for a seat at a table where you are not welcomed. What is the benefit of that? Eating with people who’d rather not be eating with you in a room where you are not wanted? Yet we consistently beg for equality and inclusion? Tyler doesn’t believe that, he is a firm believer in ownership.
Who needs recognition or some award when you own the whole company THAT in itself is a reward. When you lose your job or the corporation fires you. If you don’t own it, it’s not yours and you can lose everything in the blink of an eye. Own it.
This is one of the best statements Tyler made while being honored at the BET awards recently. We’re not sure if the Black audience realized the power of his words but he was preaching that night. We have a habit of asking to be included when we can create our own empires and don’t have to ask. We don’t own anything because some of us are still in the master/slave mindset that white ice is always colder and we are subservient instead of dominant.
Tyler knows his audience, he knows what they want and he knows how to give it to them. He doesn’t need a research company that knows NOTHING about the black community doing tests with sample populations like Hollywood and black radio does, he KNOWS his own community. That’s a huge benefit to succeed. He doesn’t have to hire black people temporarily to have them bring the culture to the industry he IS the culture
Resist and Persist
Just because one person tells you no doesn’t mean you should not ask someone else. If you keep asking the odds WILL eventually be in your favor, somebody is going to take a chance on you and your idea. Any of us who have been repeatedly rejected know that. There are some people who are NEVER going to support you no matter WHAT you say or do some will even try to discourage you in the process. They don’t deserve your time or energy and they will certainly be back to kiss your ass when you become successful. Tyler never stops asking questions.
Build a Safety Net
Success does not guarantee that you will be protected, to the contrary, it often leaves you open for attack. But the one thing that Tyler Perry does is he is extremely private but he insulates himself with his fan base by being extremely supportive of them. He also believes in giving back, to charitable causes and to the families of police brutality.
Tyler has paid for several funerals, he has paid attorney’s fees for people and he has even given to other stars in need like Fantasia, helping her to avoid bankruptcy on a couple of occasions.
In addition, your support systems may always be filled with people who look like you. Unfortunately, as a community we are still not in a place where we respect black businesses and quite often we don’t support them/us. You have to put together the best team and the best people and not feel guilty if they are all not black.
You DO Have Time
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from Tyler is that we DO have time to do the things that we need to get done. The key is to get rid of all the things that WASTE our time to make room for the things that bring value to our time.
Sometimes that even includes people. This man writes an entire season of tv shows, movies and produces them singlehandedly. That is someone who has mastered the use of time.
Know Your Value
As black people this is a MUST, we have always as a people and as a culture had to settle for much less than we were worth because of our lack of business acumen and esteem. If you don’t know your worth it will be determined for you and it will ALWAYS be less than you deserve. So you better understand what you bring to the table and walk away with a doggie bag.
Ignore the Naysayers
Whenever you succeed as a black man you will always be critiqued and criticized. We just have a habit of doing that in our community without the help of white people which is very unfortunate. If we don’t understand something instead of embracing or questioning or giving it a chance we attack it. As a community, we have got to learn to let each other drive in our own lanes and stay in our own if we can’t celebrate the success of others.
Bring it Home in ANOTHER Way
Too often we see sports figures take on their entire families’ financial woes. They end up broke and right back where they started because they don’t understand the power of money and it’s easy to think that your success lasts forever … but it doesn’t. If you are not investing your money and making it work FOR you instead of you working FOR it, you will end up broke. Tyler brings his success back home in a way that doesn’t benefit Pookie and Man Man as much as it does the ENTIRE black community. His message is clear. You can have a piece of the pie but you have to work for it. I’m going to provide you with the tools.
That’s a win/win/win: A win for the fans, a win for the community, AND a win for Tyler. You can never allow people to make you feel guilty about your success and when it comes from our community it stings even harder. The truth is ANYONE can have it if they are willing to work for it. KUDOS to Tyler Perry, keep doing what you’re doing.