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The Dream that Keeps on Giving

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Image of Tyler Perry with Alretha Thomas

“They’ve made an offer.” Those were the last four words I’d expected to hear when I answered my phone on October 27, 2020. An offer? Who made an offer and for what?

That’s what initially came to mind upon hearing my agent’s voice. Then after a few seconds, what she was talking about hit me like a tsunami. I thought about recent auditions. Yes, I’d auditioned to play the role of Anastasia Devereaux on Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living Season 2. But they couldn’t be making me an offer for that. There’s no way I booked that. There’s no way I could be that lucky. There’s no way I could be cast in a show where I’d be working with David Mann, a comedic genius and his wife Tamela Mann, a musical icon. There’s no way I could be cast in a show where I’d be working with talented and gifted people like J. Anthony Brown, Na’im Lynn, Courtney Nichole, Tayler Buck, and Alex Henderson, under the direction of the uber talented Mark Swinton and Derrick Doose. There’s no way I could be cast in a show during a global pandemic. They must have the wrong actress. Then it dawned on me that they hadn’t made a mistake and in that moment, a scream, followed by joyful tears, rang out. “Don’t cry,” my agent said trying to soothe me. “I’m crying because I’m happy. This is God! This is God! God did this,” I shrieked. I knew God had made it happen because all things are possible with Him. I was overcome with unbridled joy. It was a dream come true.

Little did I know that when I left my corporate job five years prior that I would land the role of a lifetime. I left corporate America to act and write fulltime. I took a leap of faith, not knowing what would happen. I’d been away from the acting industry for twenty years. I made my foray into acting shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism. I landed some roles on a few soaps and in a few independent films, but it was difficult pursuing acting and trying to stay afloat financially. Moreover, my spiritual and emotional life was on shaky ground. I needed to take a step back. I had no idea that step back would turn into two decades. But during that time, while I held down a fulltime job, I matured, wrote and produced plays, and penned over a dozen novels.

I knew one day I would return to acting. I thank God that it only took five years to get a much needed break. I thank Mr. Tyler Perry for never giving up on his dreams. Because he didn’t, I’ve had the opportunity to realize mine, and I was able to personally tell him that when I got to meet him while filming Assisted Living Season 3 at the amazing Tyler Perry Studios. Meeting Mr. Perry was another dream come true. The day I met him, I was doing my morning walk. I’d stopped to read an email from production. Then my roommate, the beautiful and talented Courtney Nichole who plays Leah on the show, drove up on a golf court and we began to chat. Then another vehicle drove past and I did a doubletake when the occupant waved. It looked like Mr. Perry, but I couldn’t really tell. I stood there with my eyes fixed on the moving car. When it came to a stop, I held my breath, hoping that it was Mr. Perry. He emerged from the car and my jaw dropped. There he was—all 6’5 of him. I felt like I was dreaming. I didn’t want to appear thirsty, but I wanted to meet him, so I started running toward him. I was afraid he was going to turn away from me—wondering who this crazy lady was, but he didn’t. He walked toward me. I began to sob. As he neared me, he asked me if I was okay, and I told him that I was so happy to meet him and that I appreciated all he had done for me and countless others. He was moved knowing that I felt that way. In spite of his billionaire status, he was humble and caring.

Filming Season 2 and 3 was a blast. We worked at lightening speed and as a family, supporting and encouraging one another along the way. Mr. Perry runs his studio with the utmost professionalism. Everyone is on point. There’s a beautiful family atmosphere and everyone is rooting for one another’s success. It was an amazing experience, and I met so many wonderful people, including the exquisite Executive Producer Michelle Sneed.

I can’t thank Mr. Perry, Ms. Sneed, Will Areu, and BET enough for this opportunity. It’s a dream that has been possible because of Mr. Perry’s dream.

I also want to give a shout out to my amazing agents at the Tangerine Talent Agency—Sueanne Edan and Mindy Sheri and casting director, Kim Coleman and her assistant, Irie Williams. I also want to mention the other actors who were cast as new residents on the show. Damien Leake and Chet Anekwe are wonderful. I also had an opportunity to work with the talented Nicholas Duvernay and Rob Bouton! And I would be remiss if I didn't mention my roomate during the filming of Season 2, the wonderful and talented Jen Harper!!!

Many thanks also to our talented writers, crew, hair/makeup, and wardrobe professionals!

What are your dreams? I hope what I’ve written will inspire you to keep dreaming and to never give up. My grandfather one day out of the blue, when I was in high school, told me never to give up on my dreams. I’m glad I listened to him.

Keep dreaming!!!

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living airs every Tuesday night on BET at 9:30 pt. I will debut on the show June 15, 2021 in the episode called the Triangle.

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So very happy for you my friend Alretha!! 😃 Love your new website! Thank you for being an inspiration to those still aiming for their dreams.

Alretha  Thomas
Alretha Thomas
Jun 03, 2021
Replying to

Aww. Thank you so much, Rosanne. You're a wonderful supportive person. I thank God I can be of service!

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