Tyler Perry’s life and career are set to be chronicled in a new documentary for Amazon Studios, presenting a “tender, intimate portrait” of the billionaire writer, actor, filmmaker, studio head and media mogul.
“Perry is America’s consummate multi-hyphenate,” explains a release announcing the film, directed by Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz. “But underneath this entertainment behemoth is a man working humbly to heal his childhood trauma by transforming his pain into promise.”
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Titled “Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story” — a nod to Perry’s late mother Willie Maxine Perry, who died in 2009 – the documentary will begin streaming on Prime Video on Nov. 17.
The documentary furthers Amazon’s investment in the Perry business after the parties inked a four-picture deal last fall; however, “Maxine’s Baby” exists separately from that pact, under which Perry will write, direct and produce original projects. In June, Amazon announced Perry’s first two films: “Black, White & Blue,” a police brutality drama starring Meagan Tandy, Kat Graham and Tyler Lepley; and “Divorce in the Black,” with Meagan Good and Cory Hardrict, which focuses on a broken marriage.
“Maxine’s Baby” is nearly a decade in the making, with Perry granting Bekele and Ortiz unfettered access to chronicle “the inner-world of a man, whose story has never fully been told, as he becomes a father and a media mogul with a mission to pave his own road to the top.” (Bekele and Perry are parents to one child, Aman Perry.) According to the release, the resulting film is a “profound lesson on remembering where you came from to know where you want to go.”
In addition to directing the documentary, Bekele also produced under her Bekele Films banner alongside Jasmine K. White and Asante White.
Bekele is an activist, documentary filmmaker and model, whose credits include “Anbessa,” which premiered at UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival. Her 2020 documentary short “MAi: Life Is Not Honey” follows young girls in a rural village in Ethiopia, Bekele’s homeland, and focuses on the role climate change plays in gender inequality, as well as the impact of education.
When Perry was honored as Variety’s Showman of the Year in 2020, Ortiz saluted Perry for mentoring his budding film career. Then director of communications and engagement at Tyler Perry Studios, Ortiz said watching Perry inspired him to work harder. “If he’s gonna go 18-hour days, I have to go 20 hours. It pushes you to be better than what you are because T.P. is not working for himself — he’s working for the people around him.” Ortiz, who is represented by WME, has since directed episodes of Perry’s BET shows “Sistas,” “Bruh,” “Ruthless” and “Zatima.”
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