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Tyler Perry lets Madea ‘have her opinion’ one more time

Tyler Perry had every intention of retiring his famous Madea character with his 2019 film “A Madea Family Funeral.” But the state of the world and a pandemic changed his mind and he’s back with “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming,” which he wrote, directed, produced and stars in.

“I’m looking at the state of the world and going, ‘What would Madea say about this? What does she think about this?’” he said in a video interview ahead of the film’s release on Netflix Friday. “And to let her have her opinion and get it out there, that’s the motivation.”

Besides having something to say about the current state of affairs, the New Orleans-born entertainment mogul also wanted to provide a sense of escapism. “It was just the understanding of the pandemic, and so many people being locked in and sad, and loss of jobs. I mean, the politics here in America for the last few years have been very, very difficult for a lot of people. Yeah, she definitely had something to say about all that. But also to do something that would make us all just take our minds off of it for a moment.”

The 52-year-old created Madea with his 1999 stage play “Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” which he also directed and starred in. Since then, there have been 10 Madea films that have appealed to audiences worldwide and have grossed more than $660 million.

With this being the 11th film in the franchise, Perry never dreamed the character would continue to resonate years later. “I was only supposed to do it one night as a character for one play and then it just took off. The audience wanted to see it. So who knew this would be the path?

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“I love that when it’s all said and done, after all the work is put in, watching the audience react to it, how they feel about it, the belly laugh … So bringing that kind of goodness to people, that makes me feel incredibly well,” he said.

Perry has made it a point to cover important and relevant subjects in his “Madea” movies, including police brutality. In this film, Madea and her family discuss topics such as Black Lives Matter, defunding the police, racism and more.

Those were absolutely at the forefront of his mind when he was writing this film, Perry said.

“I wanted to go deeper, but I realized that you have to take people at a pace that is acceptable. So I just wanted to touch on it. When Madea sits in the restaurant, she (says), ‘I don’t know all the answers, but I know nothing’s going to happen till we start talking.’ I think that is one of the most important lines in the whole movie for me.”

While Madea dishes out inspiring words, it’s ultimately Perry’s fingerprints on this character he’s created and nourished over the years. Perry credits the women in his life, who left him in awe growing up.

“This woman is my mother, my aunts and cousins, and all these women I grew up with who were super, super smart and had all of this incredible wisdom, and they would say the simplest thing and drop a bomb of wisdom, and then they will walk out of the room and you go, ‘Whoa, that was deep, right?’ So having that kind of upbringing and having all those kinds of people around me, they put a lot in me for sure.”

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Perry, named one of the highest paid entertainers of 2024 by Forbes, is known for his incredible work ethic, as he writes, directs and produces while leading the charge with his Tyler Perry Studios. The 134-hectare lot in Atlanta is the largest film production studio in the United States and it established Perry as the first African-American to outright own a major film studio.

When it comes to what keeps him inspired and motivated, Perry said it’s the young talent he employs and their dreams of making it.

“In the beginning, it was doing well enough to take care of my mother. But where I am right now is watching the people that are working for me; I’ve got all these kids in their 20s and 30s coming through the gates every day and seeing their faces light up like, ‘Oh my God, this is possible.’ Like Black and brown kids who had no idea that somebody could do this, especially somebody of colour, so to have this place and to be able to usher so many people into their dreams, that keeps me motivated.”

Perry made sure the highest safety protocols were followed while filming during the pandemic. “We actually were able to find a way to keep COVID out during the top of the pandemic. We put everybody in a bubble and had about maybe 300 to 400 people living here on campus where we just worked all the way through. So everybody was still able to work and maintain their lives.

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“At this point, you can’t control COVID. All you can do is test and mask up, and do the best you can on sets, and make sure that everybody’s doing the right things and following protocols so we were able to get through the movie.”

Perry is set to release his next film, “A Jazzman’s Blues,” which he wrote and directed. When asked if Madea has more to say, he pondered for a moment before replying, “I don’t know. It’s just going to depend on the state of the world. I’m hoping things get better so that there are more things that make us laugh and keep us happy, so that she may not have to come back again. But we’ll see.”

“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming” is on Netflix Feb. 25.

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