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Best known for creating and portraying his iconic character, Madea, Tyler Perry has made a monumental impact on the film industry. He’s incredibly hard-working, makes the time to give back, and also sounds like one of the most down to earth human beings. People really like working with him. In an interview with CinemaBlend, Tyler Perry’s Ruthless cast members shared what they find beautiful and freeing about working at Tyler Perry Studios.
The year 2020 has brought many things to light, and one of those has been Hollywood’s push for more diversity and representation. Tyler Perry has spoken about a lull where nothing was being made for people of color. Along the way of working to fill that void, he’s gained the respect of many, including the cast of his BET+ show Ruthless. Melissa L. Williams, who plays Ruth, told CinemaBlend:
That’s the beauty. I think Tyler Perry Studios is - I think that’s the wonderful part about our boss, is he prides himself in hiring the underdog, and not to say that the minority is, but we’re overlooked and he looks, you know? So I just appreciate that about him. He makes sure that we’re represented and Ruthless is a great example and testament of that, and all of his shows. You’ve got The Oval where you’ve got the president and the first lady who are an interracial couple. That hasn’t happened yet. You know what I mean? So he’s always making sure, I feel like, that people of color are represented. So it's beautiful to walk in there and just see us.
For those of us living as minorities in America, there is somewhat of a magical quality of walking into a room where we’re not the minority because it’s rare. Tyler Perry has built that environment in Tyler Perry Studios, where cast and crew members of color get to experience that magic every day. Yvonne Senat Jones, who plays Tally on Ruthless, elaborated on the wonderful way Tyler Perry treats all of his actors. In her own words,
Wow, [it’s] very very inspiring. And actually for me, the way that Tyler Perry has always treated us, you know, from callbacks, it was like he always treated you like an A-list actor. And that’s something that stays with you, and has really helped me with my career, ever since meeting Mr. Tyler Perry.
To be treated like an A-list actor from the audition process sounds like a dream come true. Tyler Perry has cultivated something special inside his Atlanta compound. Here’s what Lenny Thomas, who plays Ruthless villain Dikhan, told CinemaBlend:
The freedom. Stepping on his compound, I just feel like there’s nothing I can’t do now. You know what I mean? Having a room in the dream building and all these things… I feel unstoppable now because of working with Tyler and people at TPS.
That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day - pursuing your dreams and finding someone who believes in you that can help propel you toward your goals along the way. Life is just easier when going to work makes you happy. As put by Colin McCalla, who portrays River on Ruthless:
I kind of describe it to my friends as something like a utopia, you know? Kind of like being on set and in that environment, because also everyone that is working there is happy to be there. Everyone that’s working there is excited to be there and everyone is so supportive and it just really feels like...and it’s just like all Black people just in their creative bag, you know? And it’s just a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing.