Maxine’s Baby, the documentary chronicling Tyler Perry’s harrowing but faithful road to the top of the industry, was released on Amazon Prime on November 17, 2023. I had been counting down the days ever since I heard it had been made. There have been countless articles, stories, and rumors about Tyler’s life, so I was excited to know that I would have an opportunity to get an up close and personal look at his life, beginning in New Orleans as a young boy, up until his present status as a billionaire media mogul, in a film that he had sanctioned. What I wasn’t prepared for was the powerful emotions the film would evoke. I cried no less than three times.
I had read that Tyler’s father had abused him, but to hear his aunt’s account as she described the bloody welts on Tyler’s back, made it all too real. As an abused child myself, I could relate. I know the fear and pain all too well and to think he suffered the same, brought me to tears. Along with tears of sadness, I cried tears of joy as I watched his life transform—going from having no one show up to his plays to sold out crowds all over the country. It was more than astounding.
Tyler’s determination, tenacity, and indefatigable spirit is beyond inspirational. There were so many disappointments, false starts, naysayers, that a lesser person would have given up, but not Tyler. He knew he was destined for greatness and the naysayers were proven wrong. The film was superbly put together. It was seamless and riveting. The highlight of the film was the grand opening celebration of Tyler Perry Studios in 2019. It was spectacular and the attendees were Hollywood royalty. Among them were the late Sidney Poitier and Cicely Tyson. It was so amazing to see Tyler celebrate these two legends and to honor them with their own sound stages.
Tyler’s foray into the film and television industry was also amazing. He broke all kind of records. As I watched the film, I sat there in awe and I was overcome with tears, thinking about how this man has touched so many lives, including my own. I was cast in Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living in 2020 as Anastasia Devereaux, and I got to meet Tyler face to face in 2021. He is a kind and gracious man, and I burst into tears when I saw him. He represented so much to me in that moment. Someone who had overcome insurmountable obstacles. Someone who trusted and believed in God and whose faith brought him to uninmaginable heights.
It’s no wonder his son looked up at him and said, “You’re my hero.” I think countless others could say the same. God bless Tyler Perry. If you want to be inspired, please watch this amazing documentary. It not only captures Tyler, but his mother's beautiful spirit shines throughout the film!
Kudos to Gelila Bekele for penning this beautiful documentary. Kudos to Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz for your stellar directing.
A must see!