“I’m a storyteller…… I didn’t go to college for any of this stuff, with every film…..I’m learning the progress…..this is my college.” – Tyler Perry
Spending my Sunday afternoon, watching YouTube videos, learning from one of my biggest, new age, writing and directing influencer, TYLER PERRY. This man has prevailed beyond childhood traumas and exhaled into a wonderful man of God, regardless to what the naysayers or haters have said about him over the years. I can relate to Tyler Perry so much because as he stated in one of his interviews with Oprah, that he didn’t even go to college for any of the films, television shows, or plays that he’s written, produced or directed.
I’m a new playwright, and I too want to experience every aspect that comes with stage plays. I’m very hands on in all that I do that has my name on it. Did I do everything right for my first play? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Like anything else, I’ve learned that, time and a lot of self-education, will provide the best experiences that you can learn than anything you experience inside of a classroom. To me, self-education is not to throw away the idea that college is a waste of time, but sometimes, God will just anoint and appoint a person to do a great job at something without academic credentials behind their names. Yep, says the person with an undergraduate degree behind my name and I’m well into my Master’s program. I earnestly believe that academic and life experiences make for a great playwright, director, producer and anything else you want to do in this life.
As a writer, I immediately identified with Tyler Perry when he said that he is a “storyteller” and that he is a “student of life.” I’m sitting under a tree right now looking out into the lakefront in Chicago by the Buckingham Fountain, my mind is racing with more thoughts of things to write about, I’m people watching, people are watching me as they walk pass and see me spread out on the grass with a blanket, typing on my laptop and taking notes in my journal, earphones are blasting Beyonce song, Formation (which by the way, have been on constant repeat today)…….writing. As a child of God, and writer, I’m always conscious about serving God and knowing that my messages in my writings are reaching people who will never set foot in a church. It was interesting to know that Tyler Perry have five to six prayer warriors constantly praying for him, holding him accountable and that’s an added bonus to his success.
Watching these interviews of Tyler Perry bought me back to that morning that my play, “God, Do I Hear Wedding Bells?” debuted. I was a nervous wreck about 4am, I woke up, tossing and turning until about 6am. I knew I wanted to cry because I was scared to death that my words once in a script was about to be performed in front of 60 expected attendees at the Playground Theater. Writing blog posts and books is different, because you don’t have to necessarily “see” your audience or rarely do anyone comment on my blogs to tell me if they liked my posts or books so this play, was a different experience. I knew I had to get out of that bed eventually, so I kneeled down by the side of the bed, and said a quick prayer. I knew once I got up, it was time to step out in the world and make my dream as a playwright come to pass, scared to death or not!
Listening to these interviews also made me think about that same morning of my play, and I said to myself, “What if Tyler Perry never got out of bed, because he was fearful of what’s to come? What if he never told his stories through the character of Madea?” If he hadn’t, aspiring storytellers like myself wouldn’t have any possibilities today in film, stage plays or television now or have any hope that their writings can too come to pass one day. Sometimes your hope and faith in God, is all you have to keep pressing forward towards something. Although my childhood wasn’t traumatic as Tyler’s but I do have stories to tell. I have plays on a USB that have yet to go into production and books written on that same USB that have yet to be published. Just like any other writing project that I’ve taken on, it takes time for God to develop me and give me the “Go ahead, I got you” cue from heaven before I push through the journey and you see the final product.
I work hard on my writing. I take it serious. I relate to the characters. I interview people to get additional character traits that I don’t relate to or necessarily know about. I serve a mighty good God. I obey God’s directions, with my writing, meaning I don’t write what Felicia wants to write about. I write what He tells me to write about. I educate myself for hours upon hours about writing, directing and producing because I can’t learn everything in a classroom. I go out in Chicago and people watch (not stalk) to create characters and inspiration for stories.
Someday, I want to own my own production studio as well because my dream is to be a one-stop shop for actors, directors, producers, writers, etc. Tyler Perry proved that a kid escaping poverty can one day become an adult that is constantly changing people’s lives and healing years of family dysfunctions and eliminating cycles of violence in families, amongst friends and in business relationships.
I recently took Improv classes this year to see exactly what the actors I will write for, go through on stage. I think that was the greatest way to learn not only how actors feel but to also get a feel of the space on stage that my words have to cover. Although I’m no where near done learning, and perfecting my craft, I love to read books and see that although, I had never done something before, I did things in the correct order, the way it should be done. Now that’s nothing, but God! I would love to sit down and interview Tyler Perry one day or just simply shadow him one day and don’t speak or utter one word and just learn from him.
I took some notes while I was watching each video, that I won’t share here because I want you to go study someone who you admire and see how they’ve done the amazing things that you yourself want to embark on. Don’t wait until you have all of the money or the degrees to go chase after your dreams. As Oprah told Tyler, “Be catharsis in writing.” Release those emotions that are hidden inside of you to begin the process of renewal, the renewal of your mind and spirit. Not only will you be renewed, but there’s a strong possibility of someone else’s renewal or healing, will take place if you share those writings, even if you comprise your life in multiple characters just as Tyler Perry did.