Tyler Perry Talks About Being the Subject of the Documentary ‘Maxine’s Baby’ With Co-Directors, Says Inspiring Others Keeps Him Going

Tyler Perry Talks About Being the Subject of the Documentary ‘Maxine’s Baby’ With Co-Directors, Says Inspiring Others Keeps Him Going

The first footage for “Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story” was filmed over a decade ago by co-directors Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz, who have followed Perry throughout his career over the past 10 years. Ortiz said that had he known Bekele was planning on working on the project for that long, he might have been a bit more hesitant to join.

“But in all honesty, if we didn’t have that time, would you have been able to be as vulnerable as you were if we just did it in two years?” Ortiz asked Perry.

Perry sat down with Bekele and Ortiz to discuss their documentary at the Variety FYC Streaming Room presented by Prime Video. The film follows Perry’s life from his childhood beginnings to his current position in Hollywood as the ultimate multihyphenate creator, writer, studio head, producer, actor, and so much more. With a focus on healing, “Maxine’s Baby” shows Perry’s hard journey to the top in a difficult and often unwelcoming industry.

“The first time I saw it, I had to step away from it for a minute to gather my emotions and my feelings because it was so well done, so incredibly thought out and laid out with such exact precision of storytelling,” Perry said.

Perry said he was initially resistant to participating in the film, even joking that he almost took the project away from Ortiz and Bekele and wanted to give it to somebody else.

Ortiz said the hardest part of making the documentary was keeping up with Perry and finding his rhythm over the decade.

“It was something that was just a destiny type of thing,” said Ortiz. “[Perry] always [says] other people’s dreams are tied to your destiny, so you have no choice but to work hard. So I think I felt that and saw that in Gelila, and thankfully I did because now we’re here.”

Bekele didn’t want to get in Perry’s way while filming, but also never wanted to miss a moment of his life: “I think that was also the beauty of it, the vérité of that following you, being annoying, 24 hours, was the beauty because we got to see, sort of, that in-between moments.”

She called the documentary a privilege because it allowed audiences to witness the in-between moments of Perry’s life, between the set and home, waking up at 5 a.m. and even just sitting on the side and simply dwelling.

Perry said he realized just how much he had done over the years after watching the documentary: “Honestly, because it was over so much time and in so many places, I wasn’t able to collectively see it in one place. So seeing it all in one place, I was like, ‘No wonder you’re tired. No wonder you want a vacation and a break.'”

As for the title of the film, Perry revealed that before his mom died in 2009, she told him she didn’t understand why everyone would call her “Tyler’s mom” instead of Maxine. He said using her name in the documentary spoke volumes: “I understand she had her own name, her own spot to stand, her own place on this planet and her own story.”

When Perry feels himself slowing down and not wanting to push as hard anymore, he finds motivation in the people he helps: “There’s this one guy who is a grip..and he just says, ‘Hey, thank you.’ He looks at me in my eyes and says, ‘Thank you.’ And he keeps me going every day. He don’t even know what that’s doing for me, because it is reminding me, ‘This is why you’re doing it.'”

Watch the full conversation above.

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