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Tyler Perry’s most famous character is back and taking on Halloween

The INSIDER Summary:

• Tyler Perry has influenced pop culture with his defining character, a loud-mouthed grandma named Madea.
• Here’s how Perry went from humble beginnings to one of the most powerful entertainers in film and television


Tyler Perry has become synonymous with his most famous character, Mabel “Madea” Simmons. Even if you’ve never seen any of his Madea movies, you most likely recognize the character and know a little something about her.

Madea, always played by Perry, is tough, loud, funny without trying, chronically makes questionable choices, and occasionally spurts a wise truth. Long before she crashed into theaters or appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s show, the Madea character, and Tyler Perry, had humble beginnings.

Perry’s career isn’t just about Madea, though. He has constantly reinvented himself, always trying on a new hat in Hollywood. But it seems we can always count on him returning to the character that earned him a place in Hollywood in the most unorthodox of ways.

With his newest film,Boo! A Madea Halloween,” out this weekend, keep reading to see how Perry’s career in film and television took off .

Tyler Perry was born Emmitt Perry Jr. in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had a tumultuous relationship with his father, after whom he was named.

Perry changed his name at the age of 16 to distance himself from his dad. His early years influenced much of his early work. In 2009, he revealed on his website that he was molested as a young child by the mother of a childhood friend and a man from his church.

Perry also grew up going to church with his mother. He explored themes of abuse and faith in his first play “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which toured from 1998-2000.

Perry introduced the character Madea in his second play “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” which he later turned into a film starring Tiraji P. Henson of “Empire” fame.

Perry has been playing Madea for 16 years. She was reaching icon status with black audiences long before she was recognizable to the masses.

Tyler Perry’s many plays toured on what’s known as the chitlin’ circuit, essentially tour destinations in the United States where artists can reach the black audience. (Chitlin’ is short for chitterlings, which is an odorous, staple soul food item.)

Now, the name Madea has entered the pop culture lexicon, having been parodied on shows like “South Park” and “American Dad!” But before that, Tyler Perry and Madea were becoming household names in the African American community.

In 2005, Forbes reported that he sold more than $100 million in show tickets and an additional $30 million in video sales of his stage plays.

Perry continued to write and perform in plays, reprising his role as Madea on the stage as recently as 2015.

Source: Forbes

He made the switch from successful playwright to successful filmmaker almost overnight.

Tyler Perry used the money he made from the stage to partially finance his first film. It was the first time a wider audience would be exposed to Madea. “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” based on his earlier play of the same name, debuted at #1 the weekend it was released in 2005. He debuted at #1 again with his second film, “Madea’s Family Reunion” the following year. His third film, “Daddy’s Little Girls” starring Idris Elba, was his first film without Madea.

After conquering the film world, he ventured into television in 2006, producing his first TV show, “House of Payne” for TBS.

“House of Payne,” was the first of two shows he developed for TBS.

In 2009, director Spike Lee accused Perry of perpetuating and reinforcing black stereotypes, calling his brand of entertainment, “coonery buffoonery.”

Tyler Perry had experienced a pretty positive reputation among fans, if not among film critics, until 2009. Director Spike Lee, who wrote and directed films about the black experience like “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” called Tyler Perry’s brand of entertainment “coonery buffoonery.”

Lee was not alone in making the argument that Perry’s characters perpetuated embarrassing and demeaning stereotypes of black people, such as the sassy, uneducated, loud-mouthed black woman.

Perry responded on “60 Minutes” saying, “It’s attitudes like that, that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist.”

In 2011, Perry took it further, telling Spike Lee and other critics to “go to hell.” In 2013, Perry struck a lighter tone with Oprah, saying that he admired Lee’s work.

Source: CBS

In 2009, Perry began to try out a few different roles in Hollywood. Along with Oprah Winfrey, he was an executive producer for the Oscar-nominated movie, “Precious.”

In what seemed like an effort to prove that he was more than Madea, Perry began to take on new challenges in Hollywood. He co-produced the Oscar-nominated film “Precious” in 2009.

Three years later, he starred in the leading role of a film he neither wrote nor produced.

In 2012, he briefly tried his hand at being a leading man (in a role as a man). He played Detective Alex Cross, a role previously portrayed on screen by Morgan Freeman. Subsequently, he had supporting roles in a string of films that run the critical spectrum, from 2014’s “Gone Girl” to this year’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel.

In 2011, Forbes named Perry the highest-paid man in entertainment. He reportedly earned $130 million that year.

Source: Forbes

The following year, Perry made a triumphant return to television production, signing a deal with the OWN network to develop several shows.

Perry’s second show developed for the network, “The Haves and Have Nots,” a soap opera in every sense of the word, helped break viewership records for OWN. In August, Perry’s show “Too Close to Home” premiered as the TLC network’s first scripted show.

In 2014, Perry welcomed his first child, a baby boy, with his girlfriend Gelila Bekele.

Source: Us Weekly

Now, Perry is returning to the silver screen once again playing Madea, this time in a Halloween movie. The movie began as a joke by comedian Chris Rock.

It seems despite all his different projects, Tyler Perry can’t stay away from the character that made him famous. This time, Madea is taking on Halloween.

Oddly enough, the movie and its title were all based on a joke in a film written by and starring Chris Rock. In 2014’s “Top Five,” Andre Allen, Rock’s character, has a movie released on the same weekend as the fictional Tyler Perry/Madea movie, “Boo,” which performs significantly better than Allen’s film. Rock said in a press event for “Top Five” that Lionsgate, the company that produces Perry’s films, wanted Perry to make “Boo” a reality. Fast forward two years, and here we are.

Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

Source:: Business By Insider

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