One of Hollywood’s brightest lights, Tyler Perry, who has found mega-stardom as a director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, is catching a not-insignificant amount of heat for casting only white actors in his latest project, a drama series for TLC television network called Too Close to Home.
Perry, who is black, has historically created movies and TV shows centered on black characters, and so, naturally, the casts of those productions have been predominantly African-American. However, with Too Close to Home, Perry has created a show about a rising female political star…in this case, a white one…who encounters scandal and finds herself returned to her working class roots, and it is the case that nearly all of the characters in Perry’s latest show are white.
Many in the black community have taken issue with Perry’s decision to “abandon” what they apparently see as his “own” demographic, and see the matter as one of acute importance, given the broad narrative that has taken root in recent years that people of color are underrepresented in Hollywood.
Perry is apparently having none of it, however. Earlier this week, during an appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the director said, “I’m so sick of folks asking me why I have a show full of white folks. Nobody asked Norman Lear why he wrote for black people all those years. People are people. I’m writing a story about a girl that comes from a trailer park and whose family has a lot of dysfunction. That can happen whether you’re black or white.”
When Perry was separately asked by a TMZ reporter about the casting decision, he shot back, “Are you really asking me about that? That’s so ridiculous, man. People are people. People just need to let — it’s ridiculous. If you write a story about a woman and a man who’s having pain and issues and trying to get over things, it’s the same way for a black person as a white person.”
For my part, the fact that there are people offended that Perry did not cast black people in a show about a scandal-bitten politico who ends up back in a trailer park…should tell you everything you need to know about how bizarre some elements of the race narrative in this country have become.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large