Tyler Perry On Critics Who Say His Characters Poorly Portray Black People

The Hollywood titan also explains how his past differences with Spike Lee affected him.
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

Tyler Perry has a multi-million dollar movie empire, which has helped land him on the list of highest paid men in entertainment.

Despite his success, the New Orleans native has faced criticism from people who think his films have too many stereotypical characters that exploit the black community.

In a new profile in New York magazine, Perry says that he’s surprised by the people who criticized his characters.

“Let me tell you what took me aback about that, 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. My cousins are fat,” he told New York's Rembert Browne. “People who are like, ‘How dare you -- these harken back to Mammy, Amos ’n’ Andy.’ I would hear all these things, and I would go, hmmm.”

Among Perry’s list of critics is fellow director Spike Lee, who previously compared the Hollywood mogul’s work to minstrel shows. In a 2009 interview with Black Enterprise, Lee called Perry's television shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne” as “coonery and buffoonery.” Perry responded to Lee’s comments in a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal by stating, “Spike can go straight to hell! Spike needs to shut the hell up!

Though the pair has since settled their differences, the 46-year-old opened up in the interview about how Lee’s comments had an affect on his audience.

"There’s a lot of my audience that likes what he does. And there’s a lot of his audience that likes what I do," he said. "And when you make those kind of broad, general strokes, and you paint your audiences in them, they go, ‘Wait a minute, are you talking about me? Are you talking about my mom?’"

Read more of Tyler Perry’s New York magazine profile here.

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