Fresh out of retirement, Madea is coming home for her 12th film, A Madea Homecoming, and bringing joy to the masses during the darkest of times.
“Listen, honestly, my hand to God, I thought the last one was the last one,” Perry told VIBE during a sit-down about his latest Netflix original. From the rollouts featuring Madea in cosplay as Madea J. Blige, Madeagerton, and Madeachella, the ultimate goal for the movie and its marketing was humor.
“I tell you, the state of the world and the civil unrest, social unrest, the pandemic, all of the anger, politics, gerrymandering, voter suppression—all these things were just so heavy on me,” he explained. “I wanted to do something that just made people laugh, and that’s why I wanted to bring her back. I just want people to laugh, not get too deep, not to get too serious, not get all up in a roar about it, but just watch it for it, as silly as it is, and just have yourself a good laugh.”
One thing fans will immediately notice is that Madea and crew use profanity more than they ever have before. Funny enough, what you’ll see is a dialed-back version of Perry’s screenplay. In fact, his personal anger and thoughts around the state of the world served as a catalyst for the on-screen vulgarity. With Homecoming, he made a point to highlight societal themes like Black Lives Matter, defunding the police, and LGBTQ+ inclusion. “I wanted to speak to just us as a people embracing people for who they are. It’s their lives to live,” he stated. “It’s about love, meeting people with love, even the things that are very difficult for them, and letting people know that the people who love you are going to love you anyway. That’s what was important to me. That’s the message I wanted people to have.”
Madea, Joe, Cora, Mr. Brown, and Aunt Bam join new members of Madea’s extended family in the newly premiered Netflix comedy that’s filled with a whole lot of drama and a whole lot of love. And if you were wondering whether or not Madeachella actually happened? The answer is yes. Just watch the end credits and the complete parody of Beyoncé’s Homecoming where Madea performs “Drunk In Love,” “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” and Cardi B’s “Up” with a complete HBCU-esque band.
What prompted you to roll out this film by using popular moments in Black culture?
Tyler Perry: I tell you. The state of the world and how the civil unrest, social unrest, the pandemic, all of the anger, politics, gerrymandering, voter suppression, all these things were just so heavy on me. I wanted to do something that just made people laugh, and that’s why I wanted to bring her back. I just want people to laugh, not get too deep, not to get too serious, not get all up in a roar about it, but just watch it for it, as silly as it is, and just have yourself a good laugh.
Right, I noticed that. I also noticed that there is a lot more cursing in this film than in previous films. Was that a personal choice or a collaborative choice with Netflix?
It wasn’t necessarily about Netflix. I could have done it before in the other films, but I found myself a little more. I think I was a little more angry when I was writing this, just based on the state of the world. I think that’s maybe where some of that came from, and I tried to dial a lot of it back because it was a lot there.
There is a lot more, I guess, prominence of cops and defunding the police, Black Panther movement, Black Lives Matter, that type of stuff. Would you say that added to your anger in writing the film and how it was portrayed throughout the film?
For sure. I think that a lot of the writing, a lot of things that I was writing about at the time were, more than anything…what I was upset about is that everybody’s yelling and nobody’s listening, right? You’ve got two sides and everybody’s screaming. Well, where’s the conversation in the middle? That’s what I want us to start to get to and I’m hoping that, as silly as this movie is, that some of the points in it will raise a conversation. But if you’re at a point where you’re just canceling everybody for everything they say, then, you’re never going to get anything fixed.
What was the point that you were trying to make when you highlighted that even though one of the characters was gay and we all knew? That LGBTQ inclusion, what was that about?
Well, over the years, I’ve done a lot of work with Covenant House and it’s heartbreaking to hear these kids’ stories about being homeless because they were put out because they were LGBTQ+. Or even just watching the things that have happened to Matthew Shepherd in Wyoming or Tyler Clementi jumping off a bridge because of people finding out that they were gay. And I wanted to speak to just us as a people embracing people for who they are. It’s their lives to live. It’s about love, meeting people with love, even the things that are very difficult for them, and letting people know that the people who love you are going to love you anyway. That’s what was important to me. That’s the message I wanted people to have.
Is this the last of Madea or is she coming back?
I thought, listen, honestly, my hand to God, the last one was the last one. It’s just, the state of the world and what happened here, I was like, “What do I have that could make people feel good and laugh?” Madea and Joe were at the top of that list so I’m like, “Okay, let’s bring them back.”
Do you have a personal favorite Madea film out of all the ones you’ve made?
Actually, I don’t. I don’t, I can’t say that I have a personal favorite. Each one of them has a special place in my heart, for sure.
I love that. Last question. Do you have a preference between Madea on stage in the plays and Madea on film?
Oh, it’s totally the stage for me. That stage, that give and take. Now, I can tell you that’s done. I really don’t think I’m ever going to do another tour again, but that being on stage and back and forth with the people in the audience, that’s really powerful.
Is it because night after night there’s a different audience reaction you get from your words and stuff like that?
Yeah, and it’s also, they reaffirm if it works or not. They tell you, “This is good. That works.” Or you’ll hear a roar in the audience going, “Nah, that wasn’t a good joke.” They’re giving you what works and what doesn’t.