Tyler Perry Interview: 'I Prefer Writing For Women'


Tyler Perry is getting into the minds of single moms with his new film THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB, and he's revealing why he prefers to write women roles over male characters.

Writer, director and producer Tyler Perry brings together a diverse cast for THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB starring Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi-McLendon-Covey and Cocoa Brown for a film about needing a village when raising children alone. In a press conference for the film with the stars and director/writer, Tyler talks about his process of writing, what it was like working with children and why he prefers to write more roles for women.   

Q: Tyler, how was it working with these kids on set?


Tyler Perry: I had great help with casting with the kids. I have this great casting agent named Nia Long (laughs). When she said 'what do you think of my son playing this role,' I was like 'Oh God do I have to deal with some spoiled brat who probably can't even act.' They then sent me an audition on video and it was really good and then when I met the kid, he was just so brilliant and wonderful and warm and well behaved. All of the kids were great. Everyday they went to school on set. They were having prayer and I was just really impressed with all of them. I'm not a big kid person but these kids were really great and they were even better because at the end of the day I gave them back to their moms to go home.


Nia Long: My son is thirteen and I wish he would act the way that he does on set at home. He's amazing. As a mommy you can only hope that you are pouring into your children the things and the tools they need to be successful adults. When he walked on that set and looked Mr. Perry in the eye and shook his hand and said 'Thanks Mr. Perry,' I was like 'Oh gosh, I did something right.'


Q: Was there a certain catalysts for this story and when you write a story are you casting it as you go?


Tyler: About 5 or 6 years ago I retired my aunt who raised four boys by herself. She never took welfare a day in her life. She never begged for anything. She asked my mother for twenty dollars one time and my mother wouldn't give it to her, and she got pissed. My mother was really tight but she always made it her own way and she raised these four boys by herself. As I was retiring her and celebrating her she kept saying how she would never have thought this would happen to her in her life so I started thinking about her life. I grew up with my sisters and brothers and my father was in the house, so I saw first hand what she did. So this is my homage to her and to every other single mother out there. Lets be clear this is not a 'Oh poor me' movie. 'I'm a single mother, Oh Lord.' This is about women that are doing what they have to do for their kids and not even thinking about it and just making it happen. Then this whole moment coming full circle once these women find each other and their village. My whole point in the movie is find your village. My aunts name is Gerry Dean Campbell Johnson Mays. Well she had a few men and she kept every last name (laughter). She said for every damn mistake I'm keeping it so it never happens again. But Gerry Dean Mays is her name.


When it comes to casting, when I'm writing I'm already seeing faces. Sometimes if I don't see the characters faces I write a line and in the line I'll say 'Oh thats Cocoa.' Then I'll write another line and I'll say 'man if I can get Wendy to do this it will be great.' So I start to see them as the script goes along. I didn't see myself until I wrote T.K. kisses Nia Long, then all of a sudden I saw myself.


Nia: That line wasn't written until we got to set.


Q: When it came to writing this script did you approach it differently this time around?


Tyler: Every movie that I've done they all have their different voices. A lot of people think they're the same and sound a like. It's just what I'm telling about with what the character is saying and how they want to speak. When I went into this world, this is how they spoke and this is the way they joked around. If you look at the television shows that I do, every character is going to have it's own way and it's own style. To surrender to this movie being The Single Mom's Club I had to surrender to a world that I don't know. I had to really surrender to all these characters and really let them be who they are.


Q: Tyler when do you chose you want to do something silly like Madea opposed to something a little bit more heavy like this and where do you draw the line in you're writing and not be so heavy handed?


Tyler: I usually want to do something really stupid and broad and silly and fun after I've done something really heavy. I remember shooting For Color Girls or Alex Cross and thought it was really dark, this is heavy, it's taking me down too far so I want to go do something really fun. So I go and do Madea or play uncle Joe or play something stupid. It's all about where I am in my own head and if I need a break. As far as this movie goes, this is just something that I thought that needed to be address and I wanted to do for a long time. It is the last film that I am doing for a couple of years because my focus right now is television. I wanted to take a break with something that I felt would be inspiring and really encouraging to a lot of people.

I don't worry about taking my writing too far or being heavy handed, I've noticed as I've gotten older and traveled more and met more people and experienced more thing across the world. My dialogue and my writing has gotten a little more subtle and that's just coming with experience. What I know is, me being a man of faith I don't just want to write a film or do films just to do films or just to make money. If it's not speaking to somebody, if it's not encouraging to somebody, if I'm not getting letters of hope from people then I'm not doing what I'm here to do. I feel I have a responsibility to leave or impart some sort of something wether people get it or not. In being heavy handed and knowing when to let go, I kind of listen to the characters and let them dictate to me which way it should go.


Q: Do you prefer writing parts for women over men?


Tyler: Yeah I love writing for women because they have layers and areas that they can go into and they're free to be vulnerable and cry and laugh. So yeah, I do like writing for women over men.

THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB opens March 14, 2014.

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