Tyler Perry, Taking Madea from Stage to Page Playwright, director and, now, author Tyler Perry talks about his new book Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings. Perry is best known for his role as the wisecracking Southern grandmother, Madea.
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Tyler Perry, Taking Madea from Stage to Page

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Tyler Perry, Taking Madea from Stage to Page

Tyler Perry, Taking Madea from Stage to Page

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Michel Martin in Washington. Neal Conan is on vacation.

Tyler Perry grew up poor in New Orleans. He became rich and famous as the wisecracking, pistol-packing, advise-dispensing Southern grandmother Madea. Madea is the star of five stage plays written by Perry, as well as two movies he wrote and directed, DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN and MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION. FAMILY REUNION grossed more than $30 million in its first weekend at the box office.

Who is Madea? It is, as any Southerner knows, a term for mother dear, and she is, as Tyler Perry writes in his new book, the kind of grandmother everyone wants to have. She's not politically correct and she never holds back. The book, DON'T MAKE A BLACK WOMAN TAKE OFF HER EARRINGS, is full of Madea's musings on life, love, fried food and the virtues of Vaseline.

Later in the program, what did you give up for Lent? With only a few days left until Easter, what indulgence are you looking forward to most, but first, Tyler Perry.

If you have questions for Tyler Perry, how he turned early setbacks into success, or if you just want advise from Madea, give us a call. Our number in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. The e-mail address is talk@npr.org. Tyler Perry joins us from NPR's bureau in New York. Welcome.

TYLER PERRY: Thank you. Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

MARTIN: How are you?

PERRY: I'm very good. I'm very good.

(As Madea) And I'm good, too. This is Madea. Hello, I'm speaking here.

MARTIN: Hello. How are you?

PERRY: They don't allow smoking in this building, though, so I might have to tip out a little bit.

MARTIN: Okay, well try to hold on. Try to make it.

PERRY: Okay, I will try, but, you know, I have to have my Kool Kings.

MARTIN: Not Menthol?

PERRY: No, no, no. I'm trying to give up --

MARTIN: You're trying to cut back, trying to cut back.

PERRY: Trying to cut back.


PERRY: I'm down to a pack and a half a day.

MARTIN: Can Tyler talk for a minute?

PERRY: I can.


PERRY: How are you? How are you?

MARTIN: So how did you two meet? How did you and Madea meet?

PERRY: You know --

MARTIN: Did she come to you fully formed?

PERRY: No, actually --

MARTIN: Or did it take awhile to find her voice and character?

PERRY: It totally took awhile. I, you know, I, she's a cross between my mother and my aunt. She's a hybrid of them, and the great thing about it is they're the NC-17 version of her, so I toned her down a whole lot for America, but she's a tremendous gift to me.

Actually, I watched Eddie Murphy do THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, and I had just done an old man character in my first show, and I wanted a character that would be, a character that would be memorable, and I thought, why don't I try my hand a grandmother, and I based it on the two people that I, my aunt and mother, who I know very well, yeah.

MARTIN: Madea tells it like it is and she has advise on all sorts of topics, but where do her values come from? What's informing her?

PERRY: You know, I think a lot of Madea's stuff comes from back in the day. She's a throwback to the grandmothers of the '60s and '70s where there was one, there was this type of grandmother in every family on every block, and they looked out for the entire neighborhood.

Now grandmothers are much younger so the wisdoms have changed and the visions of the people, or these types of people, in the neighborhoods have changed, but Madea is who she is. She's this wonderful person who's not politically correct, who says what's on her mind and believes in old-fashioned, down-home values.

MARTIN: I was surprised to read in your book that Madea has a past.

PERRY: Yes, she has.

MARTIN: And she was a stripper back in the day.


PERRY: (As Madea) Her name was Delicious.

MARTIN: Oh, my.

So how did she turn it around, or did she just get tired and did gravity take its told, and she had to come up with a new line of work?

PERRY: Yeah, no, the book says she had her first baby and that was it. The stripping went out the window because everything dropped.

MARTIN: Oh, dear.

PERRY: Yeah. Between that and the fried food, she didn't have much of a choice.

I don't think NPR is ready for this kind of conversation.

MARTIN: Oh, I think people can handle it. We'll try to keep it, keep it where it needs to be.

PERRY: Okay.

MARTIN: Now you, but you offer some very common sense advise and you have a chapter in the book called The Mystery and Wisdom of Flirting.


MARTIN: Would, can Madea read those few chapters, the first three paragraphs, for us?

PERRY: (As Madea) Oh, sure I would read it. Okay, hello.

"What I've learned about flirting, you have to be, number one, sexy. Don't try to flirt if you are toe up. That's crazy as hell. I don't know why it is that always it's the ugly men always flirtin' with me, but there's a secret about ugly men, and I'll tell you about it later.

"If you got one, hold on to him close until you read about me talking about them. Now, don't throw him away just yet. There's some very valuable information coming up that you would pay good money to hear. Here's how to flirt.

"Sometimes you gotta go up to the closet and put on your shortest dress and your longest hair, and when you put on your shortest dress, please leave some mystery in it. There's a difference between a miniskirt and a ho-skirt. A ho- skirt shows your Frisbee. Refer to chapter three to find out what that's about. A miniskirt shows just enough to cause some mystery. What these young women lack is mystery so the old women have to have it."

MARTIN: Well, you know, thank you, Madea.

PERRY: You're welcome.

MARTIN: Tyler, that's not bad advice, is it?

PERRY: No, actually.

MARTIN: I mean, that actually is not bad advice.

PERRY: Yeah, actually, there's a lot of common sense, good advice wrapped up in a bunch of silly things in this book that a lot of people are loving, and they love, this book is a fun read and, but there are so many nuggets buried in it.

MARTIN: But, so do you think that, what do you think is driving the popularity of Madea as a character, both in the plays and in the movie? I mean, do you think that in this era of anything goes that in a way people are secretly looking for somebody to tell them what to do, to kind of put the, you know, put your skirt down.

PERRY: Yeah, and again, and put your skirt down.

Again, I think it goes back to this character's myths. She was in every neighborhood. Everybody had the, you know, Jamie Foxx on the Academy Awards was talking about his grandmother when he won. You know, this character was everywhere and she was very important, and now she's gone and very much missed, so I think that has a large thing to do with the popularity, aside from just being really, really blessed to be given this gift to carry.

MARTIN: One of the things I've noticed, though, when I see people, when your plays have come to the city I live in, in Washington, I've seen folks outside the theater. I see people coming who I don't think necessarily go to other plays, who don't necessarily go to the Kennedy Center or the Studio Theatre and places like that. Have you found that to be the case and why do you think they're willing to come out to your plays and they don't necessarily go to other theatrical productions?

PERRY: That's been the greatest gift. I've had, I have this huge, huge fan base of people who've never seen a Broadway show, but I think it's a great introduction to what Broadway is because my shows are not that. I think that if you're getting people to go to theater then somebody should be celebrating that, number one.

People who've never seen a Broadway show will come in and see the show and have a great time, but I think the antics of this character and the subject matter of my shows, I think it really touches a cord with a lot of people, people who have no interest in seeing another type of theater, so it's truly been a great blessing. Oh, I've gotten some criticism from, what's affectionately known as legitimate theater in the black community, for it, but from --

MARTIN: What's the criticism?

PERRY: Well, this is not legitimate theater. This is chitlin circuit, you know, and I've heard all of those things, but what I've found, the great thing about that is, is when African-American people, who were colored at the time, were, during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, they weren't able to perform in a lot of white establishments so they went out on this circuit where they served chitlins, and they performed, and they were able to feed their families and do very well, so here it is, black people supporting other black people still in 2006, and I think it's a wonderful thing.

MARTIN: Is the criticism that your plays sometimes take unusual theatrical styles, like, for example, you sometimes just address the audience directly.

PERRY: I do. I do.

MARTIN: If you have something to say, you just say it. So is the criticism that you break form or is it that the character, some people don't like the characters because they find them stereotypical?

PERRY: Stereotypical characters, I've heard that. I've heard that breaking the fourth wall, I've heard that. This is, my type of theater is my type of theater. It is truly what I enjoy doing, what the audiences have endeared to because what it is, is their, my, all the rules for traditional theater don't apply in this situation, because it was created, my shows were created by me, to be what they are. And I don't know which, what person said that this type of theater is the only thing that's considered to be legitimate or classy or whatever, but I know that what I do is important, because it's made the difference in a lot of people's lives.

MARTIN: Let's bring some callers into the conversation. Let's go to Detroit, Michigan, and Gary.

Gary, what's on your mind?

GARY: I was just listening to Mr. Perry, and with all due respect, there's nothing new about what you do, Mr. Perry. I mean, there, what, the characters you've created and the kind of work you do is part of, is just a new version of a very old series of stereotypes that go all the way back to minstrelsy.

The Madea character is based on that wise-cracking African American woman that we've seen in Amos and Andy, in several white-authored pieces, going back centuries. So it's not that you're doing anything innovative. African American audiences find you appealing because you present yourself with some level of authenticity that really doesn't exist. It's just familiar. Unfortunately, we're used to laughing at our own self-degradation, and I'm very sorry to hear that.

MARTIN: Gary, Gary, can I just ask you. I'd like Mr. Perry to respond, but have you, have you actually seen any of his plays or either of his movies?

GARY: Actually, I have seen one of his plays. And unfortunately, and I'm willing to admit to this, a couple of my relatives had a bootleg copy of one of his stage plays before he started presenting DVDs. And I did see one of his plays, and I found it pretty insulting.

PERRY: Well the first thing I'd like to say about that is if you haven't seen the live experience, you don't know what the experience is, is number one. And the other side of that is, I don't know what in particular you find insulting about it. Is it the characters themselves? Is it the story lines. Is it, I don't understand.

MARTIN: Well, I'm sorry, Gary has left us.

PERRY: Okay. Let me just that, let me just say that the --

MARTIN: Did you find that, do you find that painful? Do you find the expression hurtful?

PERRY: No, not at all. Not at all. Because there are people who have their opinions but there are millions and millions of fans who cannot be wrong, because they wouldn't keep supporting it. And I think what I have done is expose people. He says there's nothing new about it. Certainly there's a lot new about this level of success from, initially from African American people. There's a whole lot that's new about that. I don't know if anyone has ever has achieved this level of success doing theater and in film. And I'm grateful for it, because they've been with me from day one.

MARTIN: Well, does it have to be new to be enjoyable?

PERRY: No, not at all, not at all. And I think that, yes, these types of characters and men imitating women have been around for a very long time. Even Flip Wilson, we don't have to go back that far, with Geraldine, and Eddie Murphy and I don't think it's that degrading at all.

MARTIN: We're going to take a short break. We're talking with Tyler Perry, his new book is called DON'T MAKE A BLACK WOMAN TAKE OFF HER EARRINGS: MEDEA'S UNINHIBITED COMMENTARIES ON LOVE AND LIFE, and after a short break we'll be taking more of your calls. The number is 800-989-TALK. You can also send e- mail. That address is talk@npr.org. I'm Michel Martin. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Michel Martin in Washington.


If you have questions for Tyler Perry or Madea, give us a call. The number is 800-989-TALK. Our email address is talk@npr.org. Tyler Perry is with us from our bureau in New York.

Do you think your comedy is harder on men or on women?

PERRY: I, you know, I think it's actually equal on both sides of it. I know that my audience is largely women, so what I try to do a lot of times is address their issues. And I think, you know, the people that have seen my work, I think it speaks to the possibility of getting better, and, I'm sorry, I'm still on the last caller. It's, I just had to say this, it's, if you've ever watched anything that I do, and you completely give it a chance and take the blinders off, and you'll understand that the underlying theme of everything I've done has been about forgiveness, learning to move on. In relationships, in love, in life, some sort of, having some sort of faith base. So I think all of those things are very important. And to bring that to people, I think, is a great blessing. I really do.

MARTIN: Why is forgiveness so important as a theme in your work?

PERRY: Because it's something that I learned. And everything that I talk about, pretty much, are things that I learned or understood over the years. For me to go through all the things I did with my father and forgive him. I've tried to pass that on to as many people as I could because there's so much power in it.

MARTIN: I've heard, I've read in many places, and I've seen in several interviews with you, that your father kind of ruled the household with a heavy hand.

PERRY: Yes, he did.

MARTIN: That I think he disciplined the children and perhaps and treated his wife in a way that many people would consider abusive.

PERRY: Yes. Yes, he was who he was. And you know what I've learned about that is he did what he knew to do. You know, he did what he knew to do, so he did the things that were done to him when he was growing up. So somebody had to come along to change it. And I didn't just want to change it for me, and a lot of people will get the information and not pass it on. I wanted to share what I have learned. Be it right, be it wrong, be it worked for some people and not for others, I wanted to show what I had learned and try to help people as many people as I could to get it.

MARTIN: I read in one interview that you also said that you were going to stop talking about your childhood at some point. But how can you, really, when it so informs the work that you do?

PERRY: Yeah. I think what I want to do next is, the next book I do will be a Tyler Perry book, talking about all of it, so I want to put it all down on paper and let that be it, let it speak for itself, as to what it was, the things that I learned and didn't learn, and what I know, and my, about my journey. So that's where I want to leave it, because I don't want, here he is in his 60s, I don't want his life to be consumed by something that happened, you know, 25 years ago.

MARTIN: One thing I've noticed, at least in your movies, is that you're pretty tough on wealthy people. You know the people who get into the upper class in your movies, in both films the men have made some terrible bargains with the devil to get their money.


MARTIN: And I've also noticed that the women are making some terrible bargains with themselves to keep that money and status. What do you think you're trying to say here?

PERRY: Just that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I think that people think when you have money that your problems go away and everything's solved, and it's great and wonderful. You're a perfect human being. And I wanted just for people to know that, no matter how simple your life is, if you have millions or you don't have anything, you can be happy where you are. So that's what I tried to articulate in those, with those instances.

MARTIN: But I wonder whether in part, you know you've made a big jump in your life.

PERRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: I mean, it's been reported that after your first play failed, and it, you had to sleep in your car for a while.

PERRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: And now you are very wealthy, very successful. And I wonder are you worried about it or is it something of a cautionary tale that you feel that people need to somehow always be mindful as they climb the ladder?

PERRY: I think it's both of that. I'm not necessarily concerned about it, because what I try to do is just put my life in God's hands and let it be what it is to be. But what I do know is that a lot of people, and I, and the more people I meet, who are interested in me for whatever reason, if they usually come interested in that aspect rather than just being interested in the person. So I think that may have some sort of something to do with what I'm saying there in the films.

MARTIN: You're suspicious of success in a way?

PERRY: I'm not suspicious of success, I'm suspicious of the people who want to attach themselves because of your success.

MARTIN: Let's go to a caller in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Latonya. Latonya, what's your question?



PERRY: Hi, Latonya.

LATONYA: Hi, Tyler.

PERRY: How are you?

LATONYA: I'm great, thank you. How are you?

PERRY: Very good.

LATONYA: Good. Well, first I wanted to just start by saying thank you. Thank you for the way you present yourself and carry yourself. Thank you for the way you present black males n a positive light. I just, it makes me proud. So I just wanted to start my comments by saying that.

PERRY: Thank you very much.

LATONYA: My question, though, as a Christian, and I know that you are and so am I, I wonder how you're able to balance that in Hollywood in these days when Christianity is really under attack.

PERRY: Yeah. What I try to do with everything, I've walked away from television, I've walked away from the first studio that wanted to do the movie, because they, one place didn't want me to say Jesus and the other place didn't, they wanted to change all of the spirituality of it, so because of people like you and the other people around the country who've supported me from day one, God has put me in a really good position where I can make the choices to walk away if something is not right, so that way I can keep my integrity, so I really, really appreciate you saying that. Thank you very much.

LATONYA: Well, thank you for standing.

PERRY: Thank you. Thank you.

MARTIN: Let's go to Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Kara. Kara, what's on your mind?

KARA: Well, I just wanted to tell Tyler Perry that I think he is a national treasure.


KARA: I'm serious about that. I think that in your films and in your plays, you reflect family values in a beautiful and wonderful and supportive and loving way. And I remember my own grandmother, who was a very much of a pearls and suede gloves lady, but she had the same love and the same intense support and protection for her family. I don't think it's racial. I think it's just human. And I think you present that in a very loving, supportive, and positive way. And I'm proud to be a big fan of yours.

PERRY: That is wonderful to hear. Thank you so much. That means the world.

MARTIN: Even though, Kara, I, what I hear you saying is that you're not, you're not enjoying Tyler's work on the chitlin circuit per se.

KARA: I'm not quite sure I understand what that means.

MARTIN: That's what I thought. So. I guess, I guess what I'm saying is that you're not part of the demographic that we normally assume enjoys Tyler's work.

KARA: Are you? No, listen, I'm a 62 year old white woman.

PERRY: Wow. That's --

KARA: And that's why I say, I don't think that we can categorize or box his beautiful work and his beautiful spirit and his Christian generosity into a black or white or racial issue. I think it's transcends that in a wonderful and very positive way.

MARTIN: Kara, that's lovely, how did you, how did you discover Tyler Perry's work?

KARA: I went in to the, I think it was in the movie place, getting some DVDs, and I saw DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, and I thought, gosh, that looks like an interesting title. And I took it home, and I was knocked out. And I was calling all my friends and saying, you've got to see this movie. And of course, as soon as the last one came out, I went right immediately to the theater and saw it. And it just. The spiritual impact and the family impact and the love and the support is just what this country needs.

MARTIN: Oh, Kara. Thank you so much for calling.

KARA: Well, thank you so much. And thank you, Tyler, for being who you are. We need more people like you.

PERRY: Thank you very much. I certainly appreciate that. What I've tried to do with my work is that, to make sure that it is, and the things that we talk about, they're universal. It's family, it's love, it's forgiveness, it's - All of those things are universal themes that anybody can relate to, you know?

MARTIN: Let's go to Fort Myers, Florida, and Will, Will, what's on your mind?

WILL: Yes, hello, Tyler Perry. This is Will Streclose, and how are you doing?

PERRY: I'm very good, how are you?

WILL: Very good, thank you. I'm a big fan of your movie. Me and my friends and my family love your movie and love your work, because it shows different sides of black people. Which is excellent. That is an important message right there. The second thing I wanted to say, and also ask you, was do you think that your movie or your plays are, is making a difference in society, or it's actually not to make a difference in society?

PERRY: You know what I'd like to think is, is that it is. I was in Columbia, South Carolina, and there was a little girl in the front row, and I asked at the end of the show, I said, how old are you? She said eight. And I asked, you know, how old is the oldest person. There was a woman in the audience who was 91 years old. And when you've been given that responsibility to speak across generations like that, I think you have to say something. I think there has to be a message. And I know that this was a gift given to me, and I have to carry it with some sort of esteem and pride. It is, what I try to do is put the information out there. Now whether people will take it or not, I just want it to be said that in my life, I did try to put the information there.

MARTIN: Will, thank you so much for calling.

WILL: Thank you.

PERRY: Thank you, Will.

MARTIN: We have an e-mail from Arlene in Webster, South Dakota, and she would like to know Miss Madea's beauty secrets. She wants to know how Madea stays so youthful looking.

PERRY: Baby, I use Vaseline. You put some Vaseline under your eyes at night and under your chin, and you put a little bit on your chest and you'll avoid stretch marks and I'll get you some Vaseline, you can change your oil and fry chicken with it, too, but you best make sure you have something.

Now, if your husband try to hold onto you, he might slip out your arms. But it's all right. Just get you some.

MARTIN: And you actually had some advice about the size of the jar. That you can't carry the big jar.

PERRY: Yes, you need the small jar. Don't get the big jar. The small jar for carry on size. You have to have it with you at all times.

MARTIN: But the big jar's cheaper.

PERRY: Yes, but you need the small one to be able to put it in your purse.

I tell you, this book has so much just funny stuff in it like that in it, man. It is just hilarious.

MARTIN: Tyler, where did — Medea's very fond of Vaseline. Is it just something that she knew about from growing up or is it something that she developed a preoccupation with.

PERRY: I think it's something that she developed herself. You know, people always, she says the cure for the common cold is the cure for everything. You know, if you're sick, just put some Vaseline on it. Cancer? Vaseline. You know, she just thinks it's all the cure for everything.

MARTIN: What about — Let's go to West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Leslie. Leslie, do you have a question?

LESLIE: Yeah, I'd like to ask Medea a question.

PERRY: (as Medea) Okay.

LESLIE: Medea, I've got a sassy 51-year-old and a sassy 4-year-old. How do I deal with them?

PERRY: Okay. And these are your children?

LESLIE: Yeah. I'm only 46.

PERRY: Okay, well, how'd you get the 51 year old?

LESLIE: I married him.

PERRY: Oh, you got one of them. Do you love him?

LESLIE: Do I love him? Yeah. I do.

PERRY: Okay, well, I can't give you no advice then, because my advice involves funerals, loud singing, and slow walking if he's really working on your nerves.

LESLIE: Excuse me. I'm sorry?

MARTIN: I think it involved a pistol, Leslie.

PERRY: It involves a pistol for the older one and for the younger one, it involves a belt.

LESLIE: Ah, ha. Yes, yes.

PERRY: But be careful, because these days you go to jail.

LESLIE: I know. You got to make sure they can't see them, right.

PERRY: Totally. Totally.

MARTIN: Thank you, Leslie.

LESLIE: Thank you.

PERRY: I've got to be careful giving advice like that. I'll let Medea handle that kind of stuff.

MARTIN: I think that's wise.

PERRY: It's for entertainment purposes only.

MARTIN: How do you keep all these projects going?

PERRY: People ask me that all the time and I really don't know. I'm always on to something else. It's like, I'm sitting here now jotting down notes for something that's in my head. There's always something going on in my head, and I have to just keep executing.

MARTIN: Is this a life you envisioned for yourself when you were young and you were trying to figure out how to live in this family where you sometimes felt you didn't belong. It's hard to live with a tough dad, especially being a boy, I think.

PERRY: Yeah, totally. Totally. A boy who's always with his mother. That's how I learned --

MARTIN: So, did you envision this?

PERRY: Yeah, I totally had. There was our house in New Orleans. Two blocks in front of us were these beautiful mansions and two blocks behind us were the ghetto, projects, and that's where I had to go to school, but I would always pattern my life looking forward. It was almost literal. Like, if I go forward, I'd be okay. So, yeah, I'd always envisioned it.

MARTIN: Let me just pause here to say you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Do you enjoy your fame and success?

PERRY: Yeah, I don't know how much fame it is, but I totally enjoy the success of it, and I'm very grateful for it. And as far as the illusion of the fame, yes, I can definitely appreciate it.

MARTIN: Well, are you recognized on the street now?

PERRY: I am, actually, but that's --

MARTIN: As yourself?

PERRY: As myself, but that's been going on for a few years, even before the movies it's been going on. There were certain areas in the country where I couldn't go without being stopped and asked for autographs and pictures for years.

MARTIN: The comments of the caller earlier that these are tropes in African American literature, and he didn't appreciate them. He found them uncomfortable. I'm not sure he used the word degrading, but I think he may have felt that way. Does that register at all with you?

PERRY: You know, I hear what people are saying and I understand it and I'm a huge fan of August Wilson and wonderful people, Lorraine Hansbery, who've written incredible plays. The important thing for me is, and what I'd like people to know is that, one particular genre does not make it whole. There are many, many different genres and if you ever gave it an opportunity open mindedly, I think you'd find some pretty interesting things there.

MARTIN: Medea writes that you can never be ashamed of where you came from. Have you ever felt that way?

PERRY: No, not at all. I am so proud to be from New Orleans and to be one of those people who had been displaced. I wasn't there during that time, but that's where I come from, that kind of poverty, and I'm very, very proud of that because it's given me my history. I think we are born into what we're supposed to learn and find out in this life, and that's what it was for me.

MARTIN: What's next for you? Are you going to sign up for NASA or become an astronaut?

PERRY: No, I'm going to completely take a break is what I'm doing next. I'm taking some time off and just reflect on everything and you don't get to this level of success without there being some sort of battle scars. And you have to figure out where you are and how you feel about them, so that's what I'm going to do now. Take a break.

But there's a wonderful movie that I want to see called AKHEELA AND THE BEE, that I have nothing to do with. But it's about a spelling bee and this little girl who is in an urban neighborhood who got support and became spelling bee champion. It's really an awesome movie.

MARTIN: I think we have time for one more caller in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Crystal? Crystal, very briefly.

CRYSTAL: Hi, Tyler. I, first of all, love your movies.

PERRY: Thank you.

CRYSTAL: Critics are going to be there. Keep going. I grew up in the era where we still spanked children. Do you ever worry about those people that talk about child abuse coming after you because of the things that you — You actually whipped a child in your last movie.

PERRY: Yeah, I never worried about it, because I'm a child who was abused. I know the difference. I clearly know the difference. The whipping for correction and then their child abuse. So, when I do have kids, I'm more than sure I will be someone who spanks them but for correction and not abuse. I clearly know the difference, so being a product of that kind of growing up, I know the difference. And I'm hoping that I'm making it clear that that is not what this is.

MARTIN: Thank you, Tyler Perry. Continued success with all of your projects. Thank you for the book. Thank you for speaking with us today. Good luck with the book. It's called DON'T MAKE A BLACK WOMAN TAKE OFF HER EARRINGS. Tyler Perry is the author. He and Medea spoke to us from our bureau in New York.

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