Tyler Perry is known for the creation of opportunities for black actors. But recently the Afro-American filmmaker, weathered a setback for the installation of a white actors cast for the TLC drama series “Close to Home.”
Perry rejected the criticism, much of it on social media. Some questioned his casting choices, with one calling the show an “all time low” for the producer as the series broadcast this year.
But at the end of the season, that hard words, especially in the praise of the series.
“That is absolutely reverse racism, because it was derived from the Afro-American people,” said Perry, speaking with The Associated Press in his office in Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.
“I don’t know if it was because they thought I was only giving orders to black people. Well, I think that is ridiculous. If you look at the hundreds of black people who I have given assignments to, and even the ones I’ve made millionaires, people of color, I think it’s just unfair.”
These days, the 47-year-old Perry is more color blind than ever. He said that his years of traveling the world and interacting with people of different cultures while working his ventures including his “Madea” stage play production tours have helped him see things through a different lens.
“I’m just learn more as I travel around the country and the world, the more I meet people, we are all the same,” he said. “We have the same dramas. So I’m not seeing the color as much as I did more in the sense of our stories. Our stories are so similar.”
The second half of the first season of Perry’s latest drama — “Too Close to Home” — premieres Jan. 4 on TLC.
The first scripted series for the TLC network, it tells of a young woman named Anna, who is forced to flee Washington, D. C., after a political scandal involving her affair with the president of the united states. A woman from a modest beginning, Anna takes shelter of the national headlines on the only place where they can: the trailer park community in her hometown of Happy, Alabama, that she eagerly left behind.
“Too Close to Home” stars Danielle Savre (Anna), Kelly Sullivan (Bonnie, Anna’s sister) and Brock O’Hurn (Brody). Heather Locklear returns to the television as the president’s scorned first lady, and Matt Battaglia as president.
After the criticism of Perry for having white actors case, Savre was nervous heading into the first season — never mind that the wider you cast outside the white star is diverse. And once the show was approved for eight episodes, she felt more at ease.
“We were scared and just really want to work,” she said. “The nerves are still there, because we want it to be really good. It is nervous and excitement at the same time.”
The series will be resumed by the introduction of a number of dramatic storylines. Some of the power players in the capital are still on the hunt for Anna, a love triangle caused a rift between Anna and her sister, Bonnie, Bonnie also reveals a family secret — their father abused.
“I’m sitting back like, ‘Wow, now I know why I,'” Savre said of her character. “But I don’t have anywhere else to go. I really don’t have a choice. So I’m just taking it all in. You get to see why each of us are really messed up.”
Perry was initially hesitant to create a new show when he got a phone call from David Zaslav, president of Discovery Communications — which owns the TLC network. But as soon as the filmmaker started creating some of the characters in the writing process, he felt more confident to move forward with the project. On the series, he is the writer, director and producer.
In the writing of the script, Perry offers a glimpse of his own experience of once living in a trailer park community with other members of the family in a small Louisiana town.
“I know the world very well,” said Perry. “The stories I am relating to, and the tell, it could be anyone black or white. I’m not trying to shine a light on a certain stereotype or certain people in a trailer park. It is my own experiences of having the time and are asleep.”