Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman came at a time where Black-led films were on a downswing. The small-budget film allowed Perry to transition from stage plays to being one of Hollywood’s go-to producers. But the sleeper hit might not have happened if Judas and the Black Messiah producer Charles King hadn’t seen something in Perry. The Hollywood producer recalled Diary of a Mad Black Woman becoming a surprise hit.
Tyler Perry has churned out a vast library of film and television content over the past two decades to varying critical and audience reception. Before Diary of a Mad Black Woman was a hit film, it was a hit stage play. This made many in Hollywood weary of Perry’s ability to transition to the big screen. But Perry along with Charles King proved naysayers wrong. King stated about the film’s surprise success:
Everyone was like, oh, my God, I can't believe this five million dollar movie made fifty million at box office and sold millions and millions and millions of DVDs. And that was just the launch of this incredible franchise and business.
During his NPR interview, Charles King talked about seeing Tyler Perry as more than just a director and writer. He helped the media mogul set up his now-infamous television syndication model. That deal helped to build Perry’s television portfolio, which currently has several projects running across several networks. The same deal allowed Perry to grow his brand and prove King had an eye for talent.
For anyone knowledgeable about the stage play, Diary of a Mad Black Woman’s success wasn’t much of a surprise. Tyler Perry had built a cult following amongst the Black community with a series of stage plays starring his character Madea. So, there was some anticipation for the film when it was released in 2005. But what drove the film’s success was a demographic starving for content. In the mid-2000s, there were still films with Black leads being released, but they weren’t being pushed by Hollywood’s top brass like those from the 1990s and early 2000s. In the end, the film and Perry served fed an audience wanting to see themselves in cinema again.
While Diary of a Mad Black Woman wasn’t a critical success, the film’s financial success did set up a multimedia franchise that is still going to this day. The film’s success also led to Tyler Perry building his studio in Atlanta, GA and being christened a billionaire by Forbes in 2020. But it helped Charles King’s career as well. King was able to establish himself as one of Hollywood’s top tastemakers. Along with the Oscar-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah, he has produced other acclaimed films such as Oscar nominees Fences and Mudbound along with Sorry to Bother You and Just Mercy.
And with that, Diary of a Mad Black Woman helped to shape Tyler Perry and Charles King's careers. The film also pushed the film industry to create more films with Black leads and stories. You can watch Perry’s first feature film on Vudu and Prime Video.