Tyler Perry On Wearing Dresses: ‘I Have A $2B Franchise, Nobody Told Me To Put On A Dress, It Was My Choice’

Tyler Perry built a 2 billion dollar film franchise off the back of his Madea character. The beloved portrayal helped catapult Perry into the Hollywood stratosphere and made him one of the wealthiest men in media. Tyler Perry is not the first man to do a female role and become successful. Many other acts have done the same to varying degrees of success including Eddie Murphy, The Wayans Bros and Martin Lawrence. For some, it has been more detrimental, like Big Momma’s House star Brandon T. Jackson. While discussing the role with T.I, Tyler Perry sheds light on his thoughts about male actors portraying women and donning dresses.

T.I and Tyler Perry chopped it up for T.I Expeditiously podcast. While there, T.I asked Tyler about his thoughts on black men donning dresses in Hollywood and the perception that it is much easier for a black man to become successful when he chooses to do so, according to many, including Dave Chappelle.

Tyler took no issue with Chappelle or his thoughts, calling the famous comic one of the most brilliant people he knows. Perry believes that for himself, this is not the case. He did not don a dress to become successful in Hollywood. He entered Hollywood as Madea. “Nobody owned that dress but me,” Tyler told T.I. “Nobody told me to put it on, nobody paid me to put it on.”

Tyler Perry says that when he came into Hollywood and decided he wanted to make a film for “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” it was his choice to do it as the Madea character. “I’m not a man that enjoys wearing a dress. For me, it’s not a dress. It’s a costume.”

Perry goes on to say that his focus when doing the character is the joy it brings people and the wisdom he is able to spread during the last 30 minutes of his live shows, which he now performs for arenas. T.I then asks if Perry is familiar with the idea that there is an agenda in Hollywood to emasculate black men. Tyler does not believe this is true but also says, “I cannot help how people feel. For me and what I’m doing, I’m acting. Period. It’s unfair to have an actor not be able to portray anything that he or she wants to.” 

For Brandon T. Jackson, his experience with wearing a dress was very different. Jackson starred in Big Mommas House 3: Like Father Like Son opposite Martin Lawrence. “Everything went wrong when I put on that dress,” Jackson told Comedy Hype. “My personal life was in shambles, but my career was at its height,” Jackson says that Katt Williams warned him about wearing a dress, and he did not listen. “When Tyler Perry did it, he got stronger…My path, when I put on the dress, it came with a demon baby mama and a starter kit from hell. You haven’t seen me since.”

For Perry, his roles have manifested in success but have also fueled rumors about his sexuality. Many people have assumed Tyler Perry is gay for years, at one point even reported that he and actor Tyler Lepley were in a romantic relationship.Many have speculated that Perry’s faith has kept him from coming out. “Tyler Perry is very, very Christian. He has had gay rumors surrounding him for years, but he has never publicly said anything” said a reddit user.

Elsewhere Perry has gotten backlash for the types of black people he chooses to portray. While many accuse him of featuring mammy-esque representations of black women, Perry argues that he is only paying homage to real people in his life like his mother, aunts and cousins. “When people were like, ‘How dare you put fat black people on television, these are caricatures, these are stereotypes’ – I was so offended because my aunt’s fat. My mother’s fat.”

About John Davidson

John Davidson is a California native who enjoys hip hop music, skiing and traveling international. Davidson graduated from USC majoring in Journalism.

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