Idol Chatter

Joe Seer/

Joe Seer/

Actor, writer, director and producer are a just a few of Tyler Perry’s titles and accolades. Hi smost successful movies have grossed more than $600 million at the box office. He also created and produced several successful television shows. While many people are familiar with his work on screen, many people don’t know how big a role faith has influenced his work.

Perry’s childhood was horrific. He was physically abused by his father and a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of several adults inside and outside the home.

There was one particular beating that he still lives with. It was the time his father brutally whipped him with a vacuum cord.

“To this day, I don’t know why he did it. But I remember him cornering me in a room and hitting me with this vacuum cleaner cord. He would just not stop. There are all these welts on me, the flesh that’s coming from my bone, and I had to wait for him to go to sleep,” Perry told Oprah. “When he fell asleep, I ran to my aunt’s house, and she was mortified when she saw it.”

There was another vicious beating from his father that Perry recounts. It was so bad that he blacked out for three days.

“He played mind games with me,” Perry said.

In this particular situation, his father asked him to change a tire. As he tried to loosen the bolts, his father screamed and cursed at him. Even his mother and uncle tried to help him, but they couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening.

“My father couldn’t get the bolts off either because they were rusted,” Perry said. “He looked up at me and there was a smirk on my face. All I remember is him tackling me, and I remember holding onto a chain-link fence so tight, my hands are bloody and he’s hitting me.”

Perry was dying inside. He lived in such fear of his father as a child that he attempted suicide.

“I thought, ‘What is the point of living,’” he said in an interview with Oprah. “My mother was truly my saving grace, because she would take me to church with her. I would see my mother smiling in the choir, and I wanted to know this God that made her so happy. If I had not had that faith in my life, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”

Perry turned to God at an early age and made faith his refuge.

“I am a Christian, I am a believer, and I know had I not been a person of faith, I couldn’t be here in this place, and I wouldn’t be walking the path I’m on now,” Perry shared with Beliefnet. “And I think the greater good of the path I’m on now is to teach people to learn to forgive and move on, in a way that’s done through the healing power of humor.”

Perry is a devout Christian and faith shows in all his work. Whether it’s his popular character “Madea” dropping lessons of faith in movies and plays, or scenes that show characters come forward publicly to make their commitment to Christ, he always finds a way to bring faith into his work.  Perry has also said that he’s “not afraid to have a character say, “I am Christian,” or “I believe in God,” which really speaks to his strong faith.

Many of Perry’s characters on stage and in film touch on faith in some way. His character, Madea is one of them. She knows nothing about Salvation, but because she is so funny she’s been able to draw so many people in to listen to what she has to say, Perry said.

“What I’ve been able to do with my character, Madea, and the other characters, with the jokes, is use it as an aesthetic to get to the heart and soul of real issues. And what I’ve found on stage over the years is that, while making people laugh, I can drop in pearls of wisdom. That’s like tilling the soil for the weeds to be planted. And that’s what I’ve tried to do, to plant seeds that will grow into good situations, seeds that will grow into abundant life for many people.”

Today, Perry is a media powerhouse, building an entertainment empire that consists of successful films, plays and a best-selling book. But even in his success, he never lost sight of God and his faith.  Faith continues to be a recurring theme in his work.

“Family and faith are both very important to me, and forgiveness,” Perry said. “I think that with everything I’ve done, in the end, whoever the central character is, they would find a way to forgive, because that’s really important to me. Forgiveness is important in families, especially when there are so many secrets that need to be healed – for the most part, every family’s got them.”

Forgiveness is a central tenant in Christianity and also in Perry’s life.

“[Forgiveness] is very important to me because I grew up the first 28 years of my life, very unhappy….” Perry said. “It was at that time that I forgave my father for a lot of the things that had been done, and my life changed, and I learned how powerful it is, and how, in order to be forgiven, you have to forgive others.”

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