Billionaire entertainment mogul Tyler Perry recently came under fire for voicing his concern that Hollywood’s recent move to embrace more diversity may push Black people into positions they aren’t yet equipped to fill.
While Perry said he was excited to see Hollywood more open to offering Black people better opportunities, the multi-hyphenate filmmaker said he thought it was best to have the proper training and experience before being promoted.
“Let me be very careful on how I say this, be diplomatic. I’m extremely excited for what’s happened with diversity and the choices and opportunities that we’re seeing for Black people for the first time. It is amazing,” Perry said after being asked how he felt about the current history-making season Black creators are having.
“But I worry because there is such a push for diversity and push for hiring people of color that I found situations that there are people being pushed into seats they’re not ready for,” Perry continued.
“At Tyler Perry Studios, we train so many people, we’ve brought people in and they do an amazing job; but as soon as people are trained and they know the job, they’re snatched up to go to some bigger production, which is fine because if you want to find people who know their job, if they can make it at my studio, they can make it anywhere,” he added.
“What I don’t want to have is Black people in seats that we weren’t ready for, and then have people that are not Black that were moved out of seats,” Perry said. “If we didn’t get qualifications, the teaching or the education to get there, then how are we given the seats so quickly? It’s my hope that in all of this change and this push for there to be more inclusion, we’re also providing time and training to make sure we can do a great job.”
According to Deadline, Perry made the comments on Sunday, Sept. 18, during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where he premiered his new film, “A Jazzman’s Blues.”
The comments didn’t go over well with some who expressed frustration with Perry’s stance on social media.
“If meritocracy was real @tylerperry would still be living in his car,” @IbrahimTanner1 tweeted. “The nerve of this bad acting, untrained director antaganizing American Freedman about needing better skills to get diversity hires we fought for.”
“People let Tyler Perry be successful without being great and now he thinks he’s the arbiter of excellence. the least he can do is be appreciative of what we let him get away with,” @fancytomboy wrote. “This is why you can’t enable folks. They’re never grateful.”
“Tyler Perry isn’t qualified to be in the position he’s in. He is a horrible writer. & he has built his entire empire off stereotypes of Black people,” @Whoa_ItsJess replied. “He needs to go away. But instead he is tap dancing for the white man.”
“No @rolandsmartin, no. This is why grassroots don’t rock with celebrities and those who cape for them in Black media. That statement Tyler Perry made was WRONG which is why it received backlash,” @RealNyheim responded to a video the journalist made agreeing with Perry. “We know that you also look down on many Black folk Roland so it’s on par with you.”
Other Twitter users defended Perry, however.
“If being unapologetically black is a problem for you, then bleach your skin. It’s not stereotypes, it’s life,” @danyiellescott1 responded to @Whoa_ItsJess.
“In a country where stereotypes are abound… it is not new for us to have to go 150% to be seen as on par. We know that our ish has to be beyond right before we are seen as equals,” @DrAbramL wrote. “Coming in half steppin hurts you and those coming behind you in this racist society.”
“This man is a billionaire. He NEVER tap danced for the white man,” @2speak_easy wrote in a two-part tweet. “He grew his audience because he didn’t tap dance, he kept everything in his name and refused to allow them to change how he does business.”
“It is truly sad that people can’t give him his credit. That man does a lot of good in the community,” @2speak_easy conitinued. “If you don’t like his material, then that’s cool. But to say he tap danced for the white man is so far from the truth it is ridiculous.”
Perry has spoken on the lack of diversity in Hollywood in the past and how he had to chart his own non-traditional path to success. His speech at the 2019 BET Awards after receiving the Ultimate Icon Award was much more favorably received.
“While everybody was fighting for a seat at the table talking about #OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoWhite, I said, ‘Y’all go ahead and do that,’” Perry said at the time. “But while you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own. Because what I know for sure is that if I could just build this table, God will prepare it for me in the presence of my enemies.”
PHOTO: Tyler Perry, writer/director of the film “A Jazzman’s Blues,” poses for a portrait during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, Saturday, Sept. 10 2022, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)