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Tyler Perry: A Hollywood Bachelor's Take on Marriage

CBN.com The first time I met Tyler Perry he had just hit the mainstream. A playwright turned filmmaker -- his first two films were instant box office hits. He stunned critics and won over a new audience with his over-the-top humor and overt Christian themes.

The novelty created a buzz in Hollywood. And two years later, that 'buzz' has turned into a multi-million dollar business. Recently, I got together with Tyler to see how his life has changed. We discussed everything from his new movie, his critics and his battles with the past. 

Kristi Watts: What is your life like now? You are living a life that most people could not dream about.

Tyler Perry: You know what, everyday I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment. So much of my childhood was in chaos and confusion, I was just realizing that it's been 10 years that I’ve been happy. The first 28 years of my life, I was completely miserable, suicidal, depressed and saved which is possible, from 28 to 38 it's been just 10 years of joy.

Tyler talks candidly about being physically and verbally abused by his father as a child. He admits that success didn't happen until he'let go of the pain and resentment, and forgave. But even with all of his success, he still battles some of those old demons.

Perry: I grew up with my father who from the time I was a kid to now, called me every four letter word in the book, so I have many battles from childhood scars that I have to deal with regularly that are also used to keep me humble. When I think about the things that I went through and even with my father, I’m like how can anybody love you if your father doesn't love you? So you have all of those things and God has to constantly remind me, 'I am God and you're okay.' People look at me, and they see this six foot six man, but inside there's a little boy that has some issues we're still trying to get through.

Watts: So if you have a father or someone significant speaking these things to you, so how have you been able to redefine your significance?

Perry: Again, constant battle. Even to this day, there are certain things I feel inadequate in ... certain situations and I feel worthless around where I have to continue to reaffirm myself and say, 'You're okay.'

Watts: You're 38-years-old and not married. Do you think, 'Am I going to take traits of my father into when I become a father?'

Perry: That was a huge fear of mine. But I know I have too much compassion and am too much of a loving person to be abusive and especially with children. I've been very careful with what I say and how I say it, so now I’ve been healed from those things. My fear is that I know I will be a much better father than a husband, that's what worries me most. Again, 18 hour days, workaholic-loner by nature. I love having someone around, but not in my space so it will be interesting to see what happens.

As one of America’s most eligible bachelors, Tyler is becoming one of the wealthiest. His movies have grossed over 100 million dollars and he ‘hob knobs’ with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. One thing however, sets him apart.

Watts: I can't imagine the platform you have. You are a Christian, and you are in Hollywood. How are you able to hold up that standard, that level of accountability?

Perry: I have a very small circle of prayer warriors ... maybe five or six, but it's just enough to get me through. Then I have everyone else, so they hold me up and hold me accountable. Like I was on Oprah, and I mentioned that I had a drink one night with Janet Jackson ... some drinks and I got a bunch of emails that said, 'You drink you're going to hell.' I said, 'People, I’m not a drunk. I have an occasional drink.'

Tyler recognizes that public scrutiny accompanies fame. But even so, it is still difficult.

Perry: Even with Madea, there have been pastors who preached about my damnation and me going to hell because I’m wearing a dress. It's really frustrating to me because I don't know one true believer who could look at what I do and not see that there is an annointing ... reaching people that would never go to church. If you look at the totality of it ... go watch some of the movies and look at the message. Some people will invite Christ, some will plant seeds, some will water ... It's one of those things where you have to know your position within the body of Christ, and I don't think the knee should be complaining about the elbow, when they each have their specific purposes.

Watts: What inspires these plays, these movies and these scripts?

Perry: I pray about it. The family dynamic is in so much trouble, and the divorce rates are ridiculous and so many people are getting married for the wrong reasons. So when people see Why Did I Get Married, they'll realize there are some tough questions you need to ask yourself before you take those vows.

Watts: Let's talk about your movie. Why did you get married Tyler?

Perry: I’m not married, not after this movie. Why Did I Get Married is a story about four couples who get together to reevaluate their relationships every year. This particular year all kind of chaos happens ... the secrets are revealed, and they all don't know if they are going to make it. But there is one character who's in love with this man, and she's given her heart and soul to him and she…I t’s a great story. She's a Christian who is depressed, sad, overweight, gaining more weight, frustrated and trying to make everything work. She's trying to heal everything outside but won't look at herself, and it’s so powerful.

Like most of his stories, Tyler centers the plot around the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. His latest project attempts to go where few have gone before ... a Christian-based sitcom.

Perry: The other night one of the characters, Cassie Davis sits in praise and worship before she ... and she's in the middle of a scene, and she broke out in speaking in tongues and everybody is looking at me saying, 'What do you want to do?' And I said, 'Leave it ... I got so many emails from people who were shocked that it was on a sitcom but, I’m like, 'Hey, when you own it you can do what you want to do.'

Watts: So what's next for Tyler?

Perry: To continue telling great stories ... to continue telling stories that not only uplift and inspire but help people come out of things. My goal is to own a network where you turn on the TV from early in the morning to late at night, and there’s nothing but positive inspiration.

Watts: Bottom line … no matter what Tyler puts his hands and his heart into he believes.

Perry: If I keep doing my best, if I keep trying to please God, than that's the only harvest that can come to me. I’m doing my best, and I’m going to enjoy it right now .. .enjoy it right now.

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The first time I met Tyler Perry he had just hit the mainstream. A playwright turned filmmaker -- his first two films were instant box office hits. He stunned critics and won over a new audience with his over-the-top humor and overt Christian themes. The novelty created a buzz in Hollywood. And two years later, that 'buzz' has turned into a multi-million dollar business. Recently, I got together with Tyler to see how his life has changed. We discussed everything from his new movie, his critics and his battles with the past. Kristi Watts: What is your life like now? You are living a life that most people could not dream about. Tyler Perry: You know what, everyday I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment. So much of my childhood was in chaos and confusion, I was just realizing that it's been 10 years that I’ve been happy. The first 28 years of my life, I was completely miserable, suicidal, depressed and saved which is possible, from 28 to 38 it's been just 10 years of joy. Tyler talks candidly about being physically and verbally abused by his father as a child. He admits that success didn't happen until he'let go of the pain and resentment, and forgave. But even with all of his success, he still battles some of those old demons. Perry: I grew up with my father who from the time I was a kid to now, called me every four letter word in the book, so I have many battles from childhood scars that I have to deal with regularly that are also used to keep me humble. When I think about the things that I went through and even with my father, I’m like how can anybody love you if your father doesn't love you? So you have all of those things and God has to constantly remind me, 'I am God and you're okay.' People look at me, and they see this six foot six man, but inside there's a little boy that has some issues we're still trying to get through. Watts: So if you have a father or someone significant speaking these things to you, so how have you been able to redefine your significance? Perry: Again, constant battle. Even to this day, there are certain things I feel inadequate in ... certain situations and I feel worthless around where I have to continue to reaffirm myself and say, 'You're okay.' Watts: You're 38-years-old and not married. Do you think, 'Am I going to take traits of my father into when I become a father?' Perry: That was a huge fear of mine. But I know I have too much compassion and am too much of a loving person to be abusive and especially with children. I've been very careful with what I say and how I say it, so now I’ve been healed from those things. My fear is that I know I will be a much better father than a husband, that's what worries me most. Again, 18 hour days, workaholic-loner by nature. I love having someone around, but not in my space so it will be interesting to see what happens. As one of America’s most eligible bachelors, Tyler is becoming one of the wealthiest. His movies have grossed over 100 million dollars and he ‘hob knobs’ with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. One thing however, sets him apart. Watts: I can't imagine the platform you have. You are a Christian, and you are in Hollywood. How are you able to hold up that standard, that level of accountability? Perry: I have a very small circle of prayer warriors ... maybe five or six, but it's just enough to get me through. Then I have everyone else, so they hold me up and hold me accountable. Like I was on Oprah, and I mentioned that I had a drink one night with Janet Jackson ... some drinks and I got a bunch of emails that said, 'You drink you're going to hell.' I said, 'People, I’m not a drunk. I have an occasional drink.' Tyler recognizes that public scrutiny accompanies fame. But even so, it is still difficult. Perry: Even with Madea, there have been pastors who preached about my damnation and me going to hell because I’m wearing a dress. It's really frustrating to me because I don't know one true believer who could look at what I do and not see that there is an annointing ... reaching people that would never go to church. If you look at the totality of it ... go watch some of the movies and look at the message. Some people will invite Christ, some will plant seeds, some will water ... It's one of those things where you have to know your position within the body of Christ, and I don't think the knee should be complaining about the elbow, when they each have their specific purposes. Watts: What inspires these plays, these movies and these scripts? Perry: I pray about it. The family dynamic is in so much trouble, and the divorce rates are ridiculous and so many people are getting married for the wrong reasons. So when people see Why Did I Get Married, they'll realize there are some tough questions you need to ask yourself before you take those vows. Watts: Let's talk about your movie. Why did you get married Tyler? Perry: I’m not married, not after this movie. Why Did I Get Married is a story about four couples who get together to reevaluate their relationships every year. This particular year all kind of chaos happens ... the secrets are revealed, and they all don't know if they are going to make it. But there is one character who's in love with this man, and she's given her heart and soul to him and she…I t’s a great story. She's a Christian who is depressed, sad, overweight, gaining more weight, frustrated and trying to make everything work. She's trying to heal everything outside but won't look at herself, and it’s so powerful. Like most of his stories, Tyler centers the plot around the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. His latest project attempts to go where few have gone before ... a Christian-based sitcom. Perry: The other night one of the characters, Cassie Davis sits in praise and worship before she ... and she's in the middle of a scene, and she broke out in speaking in tongues and everybody is looking at me saying, 'What do you want to do?' And I said, 'Leave it ... I got so many emails from people who were shocked that it was on a sitcom but, I’m like, 'Hey, when you own it you can do what you want to do.' Watts: So what's next for Tyler? Perry: To continue telling great stories ... to continue telling stories that not only uplift and inspire but help people come out of things. My goal is to own a network where you turn on the TV from early in the morning to late at night, and there’s nothing but positive inspiration. Watts: Bottom line … no matter what Tyler puts his hands and his heart into he believes. Perry: If I keep doing my best, if I keep trying to please God, than that's the only harvest that can come to me. I’m doing my best, and I’m going to enjoy it right now .. .enjoy it right now.

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