“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

After channel-surfing  a bit last night, I came across a 60 Minutes interview with actor/writer/director/producer Tyler Perry.  If you’re not familiar with Perry, he is the Atlanta-based playwriter-turned-screenwriter who has literally created his own genre of movies. His latest movie, I Can Do Bad All By Myself topped the box office during its first weekend in theaters earlier this month.

In short, the interview discussed how, in just 11 years, Tyler Perry has risen to success by finding and tackling a niche audience that no one else in the movie industry has tackled – black, church-going women with children (and also the middle-class African-American). 

“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”
It’s a simple, profound statement….one that I’m sure caught the ear of everyone who watched this interview.  Perry owns everything he makes. He owns his plays, his movies, his TV shows, his 400 employees…etc. He writes everything, directs everything, and acts in almost all of his productions.  And just 11 years ago, none of this existed. Perry was living out of his car and trying to sell his plays to people who didn’t want them.  Eventually he stopped trying to sell them and funded them himself (with very little money). 

“They didnt open the door. I had to cut a hole in a window to get in.”
Considering the state of the music industry, I thought this statement was especially important to highlight.  We’re at a point where you can only make moves if you break in through a window. The doors aren’t opening because too many musicians are knocking on them. The artists who make it are sneaking in through the basement, laundry chutes, and chimneys. 🙂 What are you doing differently than your peers? Work to pave unpaved roads. Check out these posts:

Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #2
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #3

The Cost of Creating Your Own Rules
When you’re funding and fueling your own pursuits, your audience will always be smaller than it could be. Despite his success, most Americans have never heard of Tyler Perry.  Perry has found his niche but you can pretty much guarantee that if a movie theater is full of movie-goers, 99% of them will be black. Niches are great, and self-promotion is great, but this usually translates into small-audience-higher-impact…whereas, being backed by the “big guys” usually translates into large-audience-smaller-impact.

When all is said and done, keep in mind that Creative Control = Monetary Control.

If you wanna check out the full 60-minute interview, here goes:


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One Comment on ““He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules””

  1. Kacee Says:

    Let me just say that while I deeply respect and am proud of what Tyler Perry has been able to accomplish (what other black films are opening no. 1?) However, I do feel that he has a responsibility to produce positive images of African Americans. Hollywood has spent plenty of time distorting the images of the black family (TCS a notable exception) that I just feel that when given the awesome opportunity that Tyler Perry has, he could’ve maybe done something greater with it.

    There are only a handful of black shows on TV right now and House of Payne is one of them. That is a great platform to entertain and show what black life is really about in a more multi-dimensional aspect. So why when given that chance did he make the character Janene a crack head who burned down her house getting high? A situation that would require the willing suspension of any racial pride for me to think was even a little bit funny.

    In defense of Spike, he has studied filmmaking and understands the history of blacks in cinema and television. I dare say it, but my feeling is that many of Mr. Perry’s supporters who want to rush to jump all over Spike–do not understand that background and probably don’t know who Amos and Andy or Steppin Fetchit were.

    Black movies don’t all have to be one thing. They can be serious, funny, dramatic, sexy, dark, loving, imaginative, and entertaining. There is room at the table for both of these filmmakers. But to whom much is given, much is required and both of these men have to consider how Black people are being represented in their work.

    I’m just sayin….

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