What Does It Take To Succeed In Hollywood? Just Ask Tyler Perry

DETROIT (WWJ) – Movie mogul Tyler Perry paid a visit to Detroit recently to promote his new film: “Boo! A Madea Halloween.” WWJ’s film critic Terri Lee was one of the few reporters given an opportunity to sit down with him for a one-on-one chat.

Perry talked with Lee about his new movie, which she had an opportunity to see a few weeks before it hits theaters during a private red carpet screening in Metro Detroit. But, she also wanted to use this rare opportunity to sit down and talk with someone of Perry’s stature, about his career and how he went from struggling playwright to Hollywood heavyweight.

Tyler Perry, left, walking the red carpet before the private screening of his newest movie, "Boo! A Madea Halloween" in Metro Detroit.

Tyler Perry, left, walking the red carpet before the private screening of his newest movie, “Boo! A Madea Halloween” in Metro Detroit.

By now, millions of people know Perry’s story. It was back in 1992 when he took his life’s savings and invested it into a musical he had written, titled “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” Unfortunately, not many people went to see it, so he was forced to live in seedy motels and even in his car for a time. It was his faith, he says, that kept him going.

“My faith in God; knowing that if I kept praying, if I kept believing, if I kept working hard, if I kept trusting, it had no choice but to come to pass,” Perry told Lee. “And, here I am … living, enjoying, believing … inside of everything that I prayed for.”

Anyone who’s familiar with Perry and his work undoubtedly knows that he’s very close to Oprah Winfrey. It was Perry, in fact, who back in 2012, teamed up with Winfrey in an exclusive deal to bring scripted programming to her cable network, OWN. And, it’s Winfrey who’s well-known for saying that God can dream a bigger dream than you can dream for yourself. Considering how far Perry has come, Lee asked him about that.

“I don’t believe God can dream a bigger dream. I told Oprah that one day and we had a good laugh about it, because the bible says he never sleeps nor slumbers. So, I don’t know how he dreams if he ain’t sleeping. But, I know what she means by it. But, for me, what it means is, yes God’s journey for you, his calling for you is much greater than anything you could ever imagine, so I’ve surrendered to whatever he has in his will for me, which is an amazing place to be.”

What advice would Perry have for indie filmmakers who also have dreams of making it big in Hollywood? How, Lee wanted to know, did he go from small independent to working with Lionsgate?

“I went into town — into Hollywood — nobody knew who I was, they wouldn’t give me a shot, but I had plays selling out all over the country,” Perry said. “So, what I would tell them to do is build your base, build your brand inside your own community first. Get your own following inside your own community first and grow it organically. That’s what I did. Lionsgate or anybody else wouldn’t have had any dealings with me had I not grown it homegrown first, and that’s what I would tell people, to grow it inside of your base, in your neighborhood, through your people first and then you can take it to them and say hey, look who’s following me.”

And, what advice would he give to aspiring talent?

“As I say to everybody, don’t give up,” Perry answered. “Do not give up; do not give up. People get mad when I say this, but the truth is, I tell them, if you give up, maybe you don’t deserve it, so just keep going; do not stop.”

Some excellent advice indeed from a man who definitely knows what it takes to reach for the stars and get there. Perry’s “Boo! A Madea Halloween” opens on Friday, October 21st. Look for Terri’s review on opening day.

In the meantime, see you at the movies!

Be sure to tune in to WWJ Newsradio 950 every Friday for Terri’s weekly look at the movies with Midday Anchor Jackie Paige.

Follow Terri on Twitter @TerriJLee

Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA)
Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS)
African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)
Digital Arts, Film & Television (DAFT)
National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

More from Terri Lee Sylvester

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