The new Tyler Perry documentary, Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The film chronicles the life of actor, filmmaker, businessman, and playwright Tyler Perry, but a dramatic scene of his abusive father yelling at a film crew has many viewers talking.
Audiences who are used to seeing Perry in a wig and dress shouldn’t expect any laughs this time around. There’s nothing funny about the dark, traumatic story that Perry shares in this documentary: a childhood plagued by an abusive father figure.
The 54-year old mogul has previously been vocal about his abusive father on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The emotional abuse is the reason Perry changed his birth name—Emmitt Jr., after his father, Emmitt Sr.—to Tyler.
In the film, scenes are captured in Louisiana, New Orleans, the city Perry grew up in. According to People, the elder Perry verbally abused the documentary’s film crew when directors Armani Ortiz and Gelila Bekele traveled to Louisiana with Perry’s cousin, Lucky Johnson, in an attempt to interview him.
“We wanted to sort of give it a chance for [Emmitt] to explain what happened”
“That was a difficult moment when we went to go film him and being in the car and just getting that interaction,” Ortiz says. “I remember calling Gelila [and saying], ‘We didn’t get it. We didn’t get the interview,’ and I was heartbroken. I was like, ‘Yo, this is going to be a chance for him to tell his truth also and to give a little bit more context as to what really happened.’ “
“And [Bekele] was like, ‘No, that’s the answer that the story needs, because it’s his answer. It is what he wanted to do, and what he wanted to do is not be a part of it at all,’ ” Ortiz added.
As People reports, Gelila and Ortiz wanted “to create a space for polarity” throughout Maxine’s Baby, which dives into the widespread popularity of Tyler’s films and hears out detractors of his work.
“We wanted to sort of give it a chance for [Emmitt] to explain what happened [during Tyler’s childhood],” she says. “It could go in two different directions — either he might not remember it and just deny, or he is going to be regretful and sorry, and sort of say his piece and just have a conversation. But naturally it just ended up being that way.”
“It really made us understand the severity of what happened to Tyler,” she adds. “If this man [has] this rage at 80 plus years old, I can’t imagine how it was when he was 40, around that age with young Tyler.”