Shattering the nays Ayer’s and critics’ limitations, Tyler Perry has become the first Black studio mogul in American history, and is single handedly responsible for elevating the careers of many in the industry. “I have a huge responsibility to help,” Perry understands. “I definitely have a responsibility to young, Black people coming up who never got a shot,” he explains. However, he says, “I don’t just limit it to color; I have a huge responsibility for people who want to dream and who have a dream.” Perry is certainly willing to help those who want to be successful in the industry. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be handed to you just because you’re Black,” he says. “I don’t believe in that at all.” He reveals, “I believe if your work ethic is up to par and you want it bad enough, then I absolutely have a responsibility for you.” Nevertheless, he notes, “If you’re shiftless and lazy, and think it’s going to be handed to you, you’ve got the wrong dude!”

Tyler Perry is the kind of “dude” who truly enjoys what he does. As a screenwriter, playwright, producer, director, actor and author, he explains, “I enjoy all of them. They all have their place in my life.”
As if screenwriter, playwright, producer, director, actor and author weren’t enough, we can now add to his portfolio, leading man. Starring in the upcoming film, Alex Cross, Tyler Perry takes the screen not as a director or producer, but simply as the leading role. “It was a vacation for me [laughs],” he explains about only acting in this film. “I enjoyed the process very much, although I did not enjoy the down time, I’m not a person who does well with that at all,” he asserts. “But as far as making the film, working with the director and seeing someone else’s vision and understanding, it was truly a joy.”

Some people may recognize the name Alex Cross as the main character from the James Patterson book series. Others may be even more familiar with Morgan Freeman’s version of the character in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. “Morgan Freeman is a legend, he’s brilliant, he’s amazing,” says Perry. But for him, there wasn’t pressure to fill Morgan Freeman’s shoes in the role, because “I didn’t try to be Morgan Freeman, I tried to be the best Alex Cross that I could as Tyler Perry.”

In this latest film, set to release in October, you’ll see Alex Cross, a young homicide detective and psychologist in Washington DC, take on a serial killer (played by Matthew Fox). “James Patterson did some interesting things with this story,” says Perry. “It is a prequel to Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, so it goes back a ways.”

A fan of the author James Patterson, Perry was excited to work on a project like Alex Cross. “I thought the character was rich and there aren’t a whole lot of people who write for characters like this, so it was pretty important to me to take it on and try to do my absolute best with it,” he states.

Preparing for the role, Perry spent a lot of time with homicide detectives who profile serial killers. “It was really dark preparing for it, but it definitely put me in the mind frame of what a person like Alex Cross would go through on a day to day basis.”

Unless you’re name is Will Smith, it seems that these kinds of roles are never written with a Black lead in mind. With that, Perry knows full well the importance a role and film like this one has. He states, “First of all, it was great that someone else did it and I didn’t have to [laughs].” Furthermore, Perry understands in order to pull off a project like this, it takes a great deal of support; “The studios, director and writer put their faith in it and money behind it, that means a great deal, not just to me, but to all of us who have an opportunity to work in this business.” One thing Perry has learned about Hollywood is that they follow trends, “So the success of this film will generate success of more films, not just for Tyler Perry, but for more African Americans taking the lead role.”

Conceivably this film series can become a groundbreaking opportunity for other African Americans to work as leads in this genre. Hopefully, it will not only set a new precedence in the whole world of casting, but also set records at the box office. “Everyone who has seen it and these are my real friends who would call me and tell me it was crap, are blown away by it,” says Perry. All in all, “I hope that people are entertained and leave the theater feeling like they have been on one hell of a thrill ride!”

But don’t worry; if you are a fan of Madea, Perry hasn’t let this new “leading man” status steer him completely away from his core. He will be also starring in a live production of Madea Gets a Job at Madison Square Garden for four shows on November 16 and 17. “Yeah, I’m finishing the tour out, this is the last part of the tour,” says Perry. After the tour however, Perry plans to take a long break from the character.

However, for Perry what Madea does for people gives him great joy, “People love her, so she’ll be back!”
But what else gives Tyler Perry great joy? “You know it is seeing hope, seeing hope in people’s faces,” he states. He recently sent out on Facebook the message that stated, “If you quit or give up, you don’t deserve it, process that, get back in the fight, dreamer.” In about 45 minutes, the message received 38,000 likes.

Inspiring others is what Perry is all about. “I love to give people hope, I love to see hope reign over people, when their face changes, lights up and they get it!” Because, for Perry, “One of my greatest motivations it just having hope.”

Succeeding in any industry on your own terms isn’t an easy fete. But Tyler Perry has certainly found the key to success. “Oh my God, I wake up every morning knowing that I am doing what I completely love, what I want to do!” he explains. “I’ve got no boss, nobody telling me what to do, and nobody owning anything that I’m doing.” For Perry, “Success is freedom, and if that means running a popsicle stand on the corner of 125th Street and Harlem, and you are happy with it, then you are successful!”

But Tyler Perry is not a filmmaker.

Perry is man who came from nothing, learned from it, rose above it, and now seemingly has it all. “You know I’m a man who has lived my life to the wall. So I’ve done just about everything that I want to do in career and success.” At the end of the day, “Anyone who can look at my life and where I’ve come from can get hope, and that is where I want my legacy to be.”

“All I want to leave on this planet is hope.”

Tyler Perry is not a filmmaker. Tyler Perry is a creator of dreams, an emissary of hope.