Tyler Perry said it has always been his choice to wear a dress, not some Hollywood executives coaxing him with money or fame.
Mabel Earlene “Madea” Simmons may be a beloved character penned and portrayed by Tyler Perry, but there are plenty of people who have criticized the persona. For decades Perry donned that famous purple dress to become the loud-mouthed, Aunt Madea who smokes cigarettes, shoots guns, and takes no mess, but there were plenty of detractors, including his fellow actors, who believed he emasculated himself for a bit of fame. Perry recently was a guest on T.I.‘s Expeditiously Podcast and addressed his naysayers who knock his billion-dollar brand.
T.I. mentioned that Perry’s success has come with “some” level of criticism. “Some?” Perry added with a laugh. “You being polite.” T.I. asked the media mogul to address critics, including Dave Chappelle, who said it’s easier for a black man in Hollywood to become successful if they put on a dress. “Listen, Chappelle is one of the most brilliant people I have ever seen in my life,” Perry said. “Not just in comedy but the man is smart. A heavy, brilliant thinker. So, if that’s the case in Hollywood, then, okay, that’s the case. But you gotta understand, that’s not my case.”
“Nobody owned that dress but me,” Perry continued. “Nobody told me—a two-billion-dollar franchise. Nobody told me to put it on. Nobody makes me put it on. On stage, black man owned the whole show. It was my choice. So, when I got to Hollywood and wanted to do Diary of a Mad Black Woman, it was my choice. Nineteen movies since then, it’s been my choice.”
Recently, Tyler Perry announced that his days portraying Madea were over. “I’m not a man who enjoys wearing a dress,” he told T.I. “For me, an actor, it’s a costume. It like if somebody goes to work at Walmart they put on their uniform. For me, that’ s putting on a uniform, going out and making people laugh. Lifting them up. Encouraging them. The good that it does for so many people.”