Tyler Perry is known as one of entertainment's most prolific figures, having created numerous TV series and hit films over the last 20 years. But despite his massive success and ever-growing empire, Perry still prefers to handle all of his scripts himself, as he recently revealed in an Instagram video.
"So, I don’t know if you know this, but all shows on television have a writers room," he said in the clip, as he showed off piles of scripts. "Most of the time, there are 10 people or 12 or whatever that write on these television shows.Well, I have no writers room. Nobody writes any of my work. I write it all. Why am I telling you this? I wrote all of these scripts by myself in 2019. Work ethic!"
The video received mixed reactions. Some applauded Perry for his ambition and dedication to his work, while others criticized him for denying opportunities to up-and-coming writers—specifically black writers based in Atlanta, where his studio is located.
Perry addressed the controversy during the promotional run for his upcoming Netflix thriller A Fall From Grace, set to premiere this Friday. The 50-year-old told Level he had worked with union and nonunion writers at the beginning of his career, but has since stopped because he wasn't satisfied with the work.
"At the time, I had a bunch of writers who were nonunion, and I was unhappy with every single script they wrote. They were not speaking to the voice. They just didn’t get it," he said. "There was a Black woman lawyer I was negotiating with to get WGA [Writers Guild of America] writers on my show. I told her, 'I can’t afford to pay those rates that every other studio pays. I need to structure differently.' It looked like the deal was going to go through so I fired the four writers and prepared to hire new writers through the WGA."
Perry denied claims he had fired his original writers because they were trying to unionize, stating he went on to work with WGA writers for one of his series.
"Now we’re a WGA show and I’m paying WGA rates. Scripts they’re turning in? Ratings are going down. So now I have to go in and give notes on how to rewrite them," he explained. "And if I still don’t like it, I have to pay them again for another rewrite. At one point, I thought they were submitting scripts that would need rewrites in order to get paid multiple times. And these are Black people."
Perry said that at one point he was convinced the writers were intentionally submitting bad work in an attempt to get more money. He then claimed one writer had filed a grievance with the union, accusing him of demanding too many changes. Perry said he eventually got fed up and decided to write all of his scripts going forward.
"After dealing with all that bullshit? No. I ain’t doing it," he said, when asked if he would have a writers room.
But Perry also acknowledged the importance of supporting burgeoning talent, and insisted his studio would provide opportunities for writers.
"We have four shows coming up with showrunners who will have their own writers and their own writers room," he said. "There will always be opportunities at Tyler Perry Studios for writers. Always. But for these particular shows, my audience wants my voice."
You can read Perry's full Q&A here.