The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


The Many Faces of Tyler Perry

By Kristi Watts
The 700 Club

CBN.comHis name is Tyler Perry, and he’s taking Hollywood by storm.

Tyler not only acts in his movies and plays. He writes, directs, produces, and composes for some of them too!

His first two films Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Family Reunion made a smash hit at the box office.

He’s a man of many faces. His most famous is a 60-something, tell-it-like-it-is woman named Madea.

So, who is this man behind these characters? And what’s the key to his success? When 700 Club producer Kristi Watts talked with Tyler, she found a strong man of faith who uses laughter as a means to lead people to faith, forgiveness and fullness in God.

“I try to write from a point of view with my faith being always present and always there,” Tyler tells The 700 Club. “I don’t want to write characters where everyone is saved. So this Madea character for me is not saved. It’s been important to me that she not be because what it had been is this great tool to draw people in. They come in laughing, joking and having a great time but before you know it, I’ve planted seeds of life that hopefully fall on good ground for a lot of people.”

Tyler’s childhood taught him some harsh, early lessons.

“The heart of who I am as a person and as a man is forgiveness,” he explains, “after forgiving my father for a lot of things that were done when I was child.”

As if it was a story line from one of his own plays, Tyler describes a childhood filled with both physical and verbal abuse at the hands of his own father.

“To understand it from a child’s point of view, when you’re looking at this man who is supposed to be your protector and take care of you, [and] he’s the one that’s causing the most pain in your life, of course that is difficult.”

As an adult, Tyler found it cathartic to write down his feelings of pain and rejection. Those journal entries turned into plays.

“My first show was called I Know I’ve Been Changed in ’92. I tried to do this show for years and years. It kept failing over and over and over again. Every time I went out to do the show, nobody showed up. I was like, ‘What is this about?’ And I became angry.

Tyler Perry on set“I had a chance in ’98. This was going to be my last show. I wasn’t doing another play. I was 28 years old at the time. I said, ‘This is enough. You need to get a good job like your momma said and get you some benefits.' The rent couldn’t be paid, and I was sitting there going, ‘God, I don’t know what You’re doing, but I praise You anyway. I’m thankful for it. Even though I didn’t hear from You, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m still grateful.’

“I’m talking to God, and I say, ‘Every time I went out to do something You tell me, nobody shows up.’ So I’m complaining and the Spirit comes over me. I start crying. I got so calm. He said, ‘Look out the window.’ There was a line around the corner trying to get in. [I though] Okay, this is bigger than anything I could imagine.

“I learned to surrender, which has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn in my life... Not my will, but His will be done.”

Part of surrendering meant forgiving his father.

Tyler Perry“If you don’t truly forgive, you hold yourself back. You know the Bible says you need to forgive so that the Father can forgive you, which is totally what I believe.

“Now we have a very good relationship because I know I’ve forgiven him. I can sit in the room with him and talk and laugh and have a good time because there is nothing there. There is nothing I’m harboring. The reason I was able to do that was I realized the effect that it had on me.”

Tyler believes his unsuccessful years could have been due to his unforgiveness.

“I think that’s why the show wasn’t doing well up until ’98, because I hadn’t forgiven him up until the time,” Tyler says. “There was so much anger and frustration, and I was self-sabotaging so many things without even knowing it because I hadn’t let that go. But once I learned that, [I was] free to go on.”

These days, much of his work is a personal diary of his own life lessons -- lessons he had to learn in order to handle the success he’s experiencing today.

“It made me know all of those times of being homeless and out on the street... He was proving me to see, ‘Will you compromise?’ So I go to Hollywood and they were saying, ‘We want you to change this, this and this.’ Everything was ‘no’, because I knew not to compromise. What I had learned from that experience is that He will see me through.”

Maya Angelou, Tyler Perry, and Cicely Tyson It’s his obedience to the will of God that proves to be the key to Terry's success. That success continues with his first book which has already topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

So what’s in store for Tyler Perry?

“A lot more good days and happiness,” he says. “Happiness for me is totally just being at peace knowing that everything I’m doing God is pleased with that. It’s complete peace for me.”

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