Despite making history as the first African American to own a major movie studio in the U.S., Tyler Perry is no stranger to heavy critiques about his past films. Most of the critiques are focused on Perry’s most infamous character, Madea.
Still, his frequent collaborators and the stars of his film defended Perry last Saturday during the grand opening of his studios in Atlanta.
Michael Ealy, who’s starred in Perry’s films including For Colored Girls, told ESSENCE, “Tyler is a historical figure, but I don’t think he’s here to make us all happy. I don’t think it’s possible to make everybody happy, nor should it be a goal of anyone to make everybody happy.”
“What Tyler is doing is opening doors for other people to pursue their dreams, their passions to be creative and if Madea helped him get here, I don’t see the harm,” he added.
Earlier this year while promoting A Madea Family Funeral, Perry also addressed his portrayal of Black women, telling ESSENCE that he’s “very very proud” of the women he writes. Having been raised by a Black woman and surrounded by Black women, Perry said his respect for the Black woman is paramount.
“What I realized is that I was speaking to my mother subconsciously through my writing, saying to her, ‘You don’t have to stay in this abusive relationship. Why are you with this man? You can do better than this!’ And that’s the theme that runs through all these movies when I’m usually writing about a character,” the acclaimed director explained.
Even with that clarity, there are still negative critiques about Perry’s portrayal of Black women.
Check out the video above to see a few of Perry’s most prized actors that he’s worked with—including Ealy, David and Tamela Mann, along with Heather Hemmens—who pushed back against the director’s harsh critics.