*It goes without saying that in all of Tyler Perry’s movies there is a spiritual thread throughout. And although “Why Did I Get Married Too” is not a holy holiday film, the message is clear that having God in your life and prayers are the key for a fulfilling life.
Perry says it was his “faith in God” that delivered him from homelessness and the car he was living in, to a multi-million dollar manse where he now resides.
Perry and cast members who were in town recently were eager to discuss their latest film about that trek down the aisle. Playing on the words of their film, I asked them “Why Get Married?”
PERRY: Girl, stop! Can’t answer that because I’m not and most people here have been through a divorce. There’s a disconnect, you know because our parents were married for 30, 40 years and our generation is just a little different. I can’t answer that, sorry. [Laughs].
JANET JACKSON: You’re looking at me. I’m really the wrong person to ask. I’ve been married twice and divorced twice, so I don’t think I should be answering this question,
MALIK YOBA: My name is Malik-
PERRY: And you’re been divorced, too.
TASHA SMITH: I’ve been divorced but I’m going to get married at the end of the year [round of applause from other cast members]. So I say get married so you can have love, partnership and a best friend for the rest of your life.
PERRY: And somebody to help you pay your bills [laughter]; that’s important, too.
CICELY TYSON: To give your children proper parents.
PERRY: That’s great [he claps].
TYSON: Children should have a balanced start in life.
TYSON: They should have a mother and a father. I think that’s the only reason to get married. [Everyone laughs].
RICHARD T. JONES: Marriage is an inheritance. I just really believe you got partner to journey with for the rest of your life.
On a more serious note, why is a film on black love and relationships important?
TYSON: Interestingly enough I was promoting a film once in Los Angeles and the newscaster was very wasp, blond, blue eyes and she said she did not believe the relationship that existed in that particular film.
MICHAEL JAI WHITE: Ahem!
TYSON: Yes, that’s what I said. First of all I really could not absorb what she said to me but after I was able to digest it somewhat, I looked at her and I said, ‘You realize what you’re saying?’ and she said, ‘No. I don’t know. I’ve never socialized with them. I never went to school with them. I never lived with them.’ She’s talking to me and she’s saying ‘them,’ ok. And so I said, ‘Well, my dear, I have to tell you that your guilt lies in your innocence and I cannot forgive you. The whole civil rights fight for freedom was all over television; children, women, and men were hosed and gunned down and you are telling me that you know nothing about a group of black Americans who helped build this country? I’m sorry, I cannot answer that question.’ And I walked away. So it’s because of that kind of ignorance that some people have about us as a race of people that these kinds of films are so important because they get to know who we are, what we are and why we exist in this world.
WHITE: Some partners and I started an all black male ensemble theater company a few years ago in L.A. called The Black Gents of Hollywood and it really stemmed from the question of black love and relationships onscreen. Looking around we could see the incredible diversity amongst us as peers, as friends, as educated men, some of them fathers, some husbands, but all accomplished. There are handsome brothers who are articulate and active in the community but you don’t see them most of the times. We have a responsibility of doing more to represent ourselves in a proper way. We are tied to greatness and always have been. So that’s what our theater company is a representation of. That’s what this cast is a presentation of. When it comes to our families and our relationships, the black male image is atrocious. It’s absolutely atrocious. So when you’ve got Richard T. Jones, Tyler Perry, Malik Yoba, Mike Jai White, myself, I believe what we all feel we are trying to do is to make sure that we strongly demonstrate how dynamic and wonderful we as black men are and can be.
SMITH: It’s a blessing as an artist to be able to touch hearts, change minds, inspire, encourage and help people to see us as we really are. I feel like we’re ministers, all of us, through the arts. We can change the world’s perception through what we do So we all have to be mindful of this.
PERRY: I just think that there are so many stories that we have to tell that have not been told. Again, listening to these characters [in ‘Why Did I Get Married Too’] I feel like there was so much more that they wanted to say. There are still more to deal with in the relationships. What blows my mind is the responses I get from people like, ‘This [movie] works for me, man. ‘This is something I’m going through right now. We were having trouble in our relationship but we saw this. We went home, we cried together, we prayed about it, and we worked it out,’ you know. Those kind of moments, that’s what matters to me more than anything else. To have millions and millions of people go and see a film and it affects them in that way, that’s beyond what anyone can say about it negatively.
TYSON: Images on celluloid of us are sent around the world and what they see is what they believe we are. My daughter had an experience on a trip to Europe that involved an Asian family. They had a young son and he kind of took a liking to her. He was walking along side her and suddenly started to do a funny kind dip with his body. He got deeper and deeper into it and said, ‘You see ‘Car Wash’? She said, ‘no.’ He said, ‘I see ‘Car Wash.’ ‘That’s nice,’ she said and he goes, ‘I like ‘Car Wash.’ Why you no walk and talk like the people in ‘Car Wash’? She said, ‘excuse me but there are millions of people that look like me that don’t walk or talk like the people in ‘Car Wash.’ So you have to keep in mind that the images that are sent abroad are the images that they have in mind of who and what we are. The images in this film are positive. These tell the truth about us, whether it be good, bad or indifferent.
Janet, how was it doing this project during a stressful time in your life?
JACKSON: It was very cathartic for me to do a lot of the scenes with what I had been going through or had just recently gone through with the passing of my brother. So to be able to just unleash in certain ways with certain scenes as well as just to vent when it came to the golf club-
PERRY: That she hit me with.
JACKSON: Just three days ago he told me I hit him and I never knew.
PERRY: She hit me and she hit herself. Her ankle was swollen.
JACKSON: Yes, for the rest of the shooting schedule my ankle was pretty bad but it was very therapeutic for me and working with Tyler, he’s an actor’s director. He knows what he wants when he sees it. We do a few takes and that’s it. Then we move on to the next scene.
YOBA: That scene with the golf club was so intense I just threw the Vodka on Janet.
PERRY: I didn’t tell him to do that. That just came out of nowhere, but it was incredible. I was just like, ‘Wow.’
YOBA: That represented holy water. I was blessing her, actually. [Everyone laughs] It’s true, though. For me, in that moment, it was like, ‘I bless you.’
PERRY: I bless you with the Vodka [Laughs].
YOBA: -With the spirits. We’re all friends and come from a similar space and understand the gift, the blessing and the responsibility to minister through the work. That’s why I got into doing what I do and it’s always great to have the opportunity to do it again.