As a documentary film we can only describe equal parts emotional, inspiring, painful, and touching, Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story’ is absolutely unlike any other. That’s because, as the title suggests, it delves deep into this titular entertainment figure’s rise from the local areas of New Orleans, Louisiana, to the stages of his own multi-million dollar studio. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about the one individual who arguably affected him the most in this journey of perseverance — his father, Emmitt Perry Sr. — we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Emmitt Perry Sr.?
It was reportedly back in 1963 when carpenter Emmitt tied the knot with 17-year-old Willie Maxine Campbell to offer her some stability, only for them to then welcome four kids into their lives. They are Yulanda Wilkins, Melva Porter, Emmitt “Tyler” Perry Jr., and Emmbre Perry, all of whom (except the latter) came in rather quick succession and were admittedly raised in “hell” owing to abuse. As per Tyler, who legally changed his name at 16 in an attempt to distance himself from his namesake, his father was a hard worker and never failed to be a provider, but he was also abusive.
In fact, according to the original production, everyone in Emmitt’s vicinity was often either physically or verbally abused — there were no “I love you’s,” yet there were beatings and much more. “He was a rough man growing up,” said nephew Lucky in the movie. “He was a no-nonsense type guy. You know, didn’t laugh a lot, didn’t think too much was funny… He was a strong, hardworking man, but he was just an irate, sultry type man. Just hard. Third-grade education, come out to the country, and he was guided by working hard.” However, he would also drink a lot, maybe going as far as to have a 24-pack of beer daily.
Nevertheless, because Emmitt always ensured there was food on the table, Willie Maxine never left him, even if he beat her or the kids till they were utterly broken, bruised, crying, and scarred. That’s what pushed Terry to create a sort of safe house under their porch as well as a safe space in his mind where he could quickly disappear, only for the latter to become key for his creative vision. Though what’s more imperative to note is the fact he has never once judged or blamed his loving mother for not walking away — he understands she loved him, cared for him, and believed him to be her sole support with their four children.
Moreover, and more importantly, Terry has since forgiven Emmitt too – he was in his 20s when he did so because he knew carrying the anger, pain, and resentment would only make him destroy his life. The fact he’d learned his father was also raised this way helped him come to terms with it as well — he was found in a ditch at the age of two alongside his siblings before being raised by a 14-year-old who didn’t know better than abuse either. So, despite the fact this actor, filmmaker, writer had made the unwavering decision to be estranged from his old man quite early on in life, he ensures he’s well taken care of in every sense of the term.
We should also mention that when Terry was nearing 30, his mother conceded one of the reasons Emmitt often targeted him so badly was because he never believed him to be biologically his son. Therefore, after she unfortunately passed away in 2009, he took a DNA test and learned that the man he thought to be his father was actually not, making him feel nothing but pure, unfiltered relief. “I was relieved because my image of a father was not somebody who could do that to their child,” he expressed. Yet, with everything said and done, he does credit his father for his work ethic.
Where is Emmitt Perry Sr. Now?
From what we can tell, with a little bit of help from his son, Emmitt Perry Sr. continues to reside in Louisiana to this day, where he prefers to keep his life well away from the limelight. It’s even imperative to mention that the creators of ‘Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story’ did try to interview him at one point, but he quickly cussed them out to make it clear he was not interested. “We wanted to sort of give it a chance for [Emmitt] to explain what happened [during Tyler’s childhood],” Gelila Bekele said. “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.”
She then added, “It really made us understand the severity of what happened to Tyler. 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.”
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