Tyler Perry discusses new documentary about his life, “Maxine’s Baby” and the SAG-AFTRA strike


Tyler Perry joined the “CBS Mornings” hosts in studio Tuesday to talk about “Maxine’s Baby,” a new documentary his longtime partner Gelila Bekele made about his life.

Perry said he had no creative control over the documentary, an unusual position for the actor, producer, director and media mogul. He said cameras followed him for 10 years to make the film.

“It’s not a story I’m telling … it’s my life,” Perry said, adding that he hopes his struggles and triumphs shown in the film will inspire others. “If that happens, it was worth it to me.”

The documentary is named after Perry’s mother, Maxine, who died in 2009 after a long illness. Perry said it was Maxine who inspired him to become the multi-hyphenate star he is known as today.

“Everything I did was about her. All the work was about her. I was never after money. It was always about making enough money to take care of her, to buy her medicine, to make sure that we was never in poverty again.” Perry said. “No matter how much I had, it was never enough.”

When his mother died, Perry said “all that was gone” and the struggle to regain his motivation was slow.

“It was like a car running on gas suddenly saying, ‘Now you have to get diesel,'” Perry said. “Now my motivation has become to see all the people who come into the studios, young, black, all represented, who have never had a chance in this industry – it gives me the inspiration to continue.”

Perry was referring to the self-titled Tyler Perry Studios, a film production studio built on 330 acres of land in Atlanta. It is the largest film complex in the country, according to earlier reporting by CBS Newsand Perry is the first black person to independently own a major motion picture studio.

Because of his role as a studio owner and operator, and having been an actor, Perry has a unique perspective on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike. Perry closed his studios in solidarity with the unions, he said, and now holds food drives and fundraisers at the site. But he said it had been “crippling” not working for so long.

“As we look at all of this and as we negotiate, it’s so important [SAG-AFTRA president] Fran Drescher, [SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator] Duncan Ireland, the entire negotiating committee has done a fantastic job of moving this forward … but it’s really important to know when we’ve won. This is only a three-year deal. In two years, two and a half years, we’re going to renegotiate again,” Perry said. “So we’ve got to know what we’ve won and what have we won for now? That’s the thing. For now. … If I had run my business and tried to get everything at once, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got as much as I can for now, so let’s see what we can do next.”


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