Tyler Perry's recent casting choice raises eyebrows.
Seems like everyone’s talking about Tyler Perry again. I caught his episode of “Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind” on OWN last week. It featured Perry directing “For Colored Girls,” and rehearsing and performing his play “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” He was also shown inside his Atlanta mega-home, where he lives alone, save for a harem of semi-obedient dogs. (If you’re a Perry fan, an entrepreneur or just in need of some inspiration, it’s worth catching on repeat.)
I got another dose of Perry when I caught a commercial for “For Better or For Worse,” an upcoming TV series based off Perry’s uber popular film franchise “Why Did I Get Married?” (The first one is, coincidentally, my favorite of the Perry films.) The show centers on Angela (Tasha Smith), the edgy and out-spoken wife of Marcus (Michael Jai White), an ex football player turned sports commentator. It will explore, according to TBS, “the controversial and joyous moments associated with marriage and dating in the 21st Century world.”
I'm a Tasha Smith stan, so I'll definitely be checking it out.
My Perry moment kicked into overdrive when I read a report on Deadline that reality star Kim Kardashian will co-star in Tyler Perry’s “The Marriage Counselor,” Kardashian will reportedly play a co-worker of the movie’s lead, Jurnee Smollett (“The Great Debaters”). As you can imagine, many Black women were not so happy with this news.
“I am very disappointed that [Tyler Perry] has chosen Kim K. to play any part in his movies,” wrote one commenter. “It is just too many beautiful Black women that could play this part: newcomers or seasoned actors.”
Other commenters wondered if this was a move to expand Perry’s audience. “Casting Kim has done exactly what it was supposed to do: bring advance publicity to the film!” said another reader. “Now people are going to flock to [the film]… Jurnee’s talent and beauty will be revealed, and folks who would never watch a “Tyler Perry” movie, much less a “Black film” will check it out for the curiosity factor and will finally see that “Black films” don’t equal some foreign culture."
But even with a Kardashian controversy brewing, in a week full of Tyler Perry news, it was Rev. Al Sharpton’s) comments about Perry’s critics at last Wednesday’s Triumph Awards that garnered the lion’s share of attention. The civil rights leader called Perry critics, “proper Negroes” who don’t understand regular black folk.
Perry added that his critics are trying to remove themselves from their more humble roots. “What I wish I could get us to understand as a people is that instead of getting your education and running from us, you need to ground and root yourself in who we are. Every other culture in this country knows the value of us as Black people but we don’t know it ourselves.”
Hmmm. Tyler Perry is a very controversial figure with fans that adore him, as much as some critics abhor him. What do you think of his recent moves? Is he on to something with his implication that Blacks don’t appreciate our culture?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of "A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk