“I’ve got a surprise for you: I wrote a book!” says Tyler Perry. “It’s called Higher Is Waiting. This book is for everybody who’s trying to get higher…Trying to get higher than where you are. Knowing that there’s something greater for you, knowing God is pulling you up… I promise you, it’s going to bless you,” Perry says. In this exclusive video interview, Tyler Perry talks trusting God and the power of forgiveness.
Higher Is Waiting is a spiritual guidebook, a collection of teachings taken from Perry’s lifetime of experiences. It is meant to inspire readers to climb higher in their own lives and to move to a better, more fulfilling place. In this intimate book, Tyler writes about how his faith has sustained him in hard times, centered him in good times, and enriched his life overall.
Sonoma Christian Home had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Tyler Perry during a press gathering in Los Angeles for his “Halloween alternative” movie Boo 2 (PG-13), which is appropriate for teens and adults. This film is a comedic satire that holds a mirror up for all of us to see the foolish things we all do that have potentially destructive consequences. It warns that we reap what we sow. As in the Greek tragedy Medea, of the movie’s character Madea’s namesake, it is hyperbole, albeit comedic satire, which warns us all of what to avoid and encourages all of us to live higher. The subtitle for the movie could be the same title of his upcoming book Higher is Waiting. SCH Editor At Large Dr. Diane Howard talked with Perry exclusively about his new book.
First and foremost, Tyler Perry is a Christian. He is also a prolific writer, actor, and director, as well as a producer. The themes of love, forgiveness, and faith emerge clearly in his work. In an interview with Hip Hollywood, he has said, “…I can slap Madea on something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those.”
Perry’s work is greatly influenced by his family history. He was born in New Orleans and reared by his mother, Willie Maxine (Campbell) and father, Emmitt Perry, Sr. His mother participated in her church and Tyler did along with her. Tyler had a very strained and abusive relationship with his father, a carpenter, which led Perry to suffer from severe depression as a teenager.
In 1991, he began to understand the therapeutic nature of writing. He began to work through his bad experiences by writing letters to himself. He adapted his letters into a play, I Know I’ve Changed, about domestic abuse. Unfortunately, in a rented theater in Atlanta, the play initially failed to attract needed audiences.
Tyler eventually worked at odd jobs and lived out of his car. In 1998, he had a second chance to stage his play. This time, with better marketing, the play drew sold-out audiences and attention from investors. Since then, Perry has had an established and highly successful career as a writer, director, and producer for stage, TV, and film.
He begins his book with his earliest memories of growing up as a shy boy in New Orleans. Tyler, whose life and work has been marked by contrasting ironies and paradoxes, recalls the moments of grace and beauty in a childhood marked by brutality, deprivation, and fear. He sketches with tenderness, portraits of people who sustained him and taught him indelible, critical lessons about integrity, trust in God, and the power of forgiveness.
These influences included his Aunt Mae, who cared for her grandfather (born a slave) and sewed quilts that told generational stories. They also included Mr. Butler, a blind man of remarkable dignity and elegance, who sold penny candies on a street corner. Further, Tyler includes his beloved mother, Maxine, who endured abuse, financial hardship, and the daily injustices of growing up in the Jim Crow South, but whose strong, fierce love for Tyler burned bright and never dimmed.
Perry writes of how he nurtured his dreams, discovered solace in nature, and became resolutely determined to reach ever higher. Perry vividly describes with great heart, his growing awareness of God’s presence in his life. He shares how he learned to tune into God’s voice, to persevere through hard times, and to choose faith over fear.
Tyler Perry is a devoted son, loving father, steadfast friend, as well as naturalist, philanthropist, and creative spirit who shares his life lessons and insights into scripture as a gift that he offers with generosity, humility, and love.
In his book, Tyler Perry shares how his experiences affected his work, how he nurtured his dreams, and how he discovered solace in nature. Further, he explains his resolute determination to reach ever higher, how he developed an awareness of God, and how he learned to tune into God’s voice. He tells how he persevered through hard times, how he chose faith over fear, and how he developed commitment and service to others. Even more, he explains how has God has guided his life lessons and insights into scripture, as well as why he now shares them with others.
Perry is an American writer, actor, director, and producer, whose best-known character is Mabel Simmons. Mabel, who is commonly known as “Madea” is an overbearing but well-intentioned woman. She serves as comic relief and as the loud voice of conscience.
Tyler Perry has said, “I know my audience, and they’re not people that the studios know anything about…Hollywood is finally waking up to the fact that people who go to church also go to the movies. I’m not sure what took them so long to see that or how long they’ll keep it up…Did you know you can’t say ‘Jesus’ in a sitcom? They told me that and I was like, You gotta be kiddin’ me. If you don’t want my God here, you don’t want me here either. God has been too good to me to go and try to sell out to get some money…It ain’t gonna happen…I’ve never been one to knock on the door and say, ‘Please let me in’…I have always tried to make my own way. I do not think change comes from asking people to let you in. I think change comes by becoming owners of studios, owners of projects, owners of content….”
Open about his own Christian faith, Tyler Perry is the narrator for The Passion (2016), staged all over New Orleans and broadcast on TV for Easter. It is the story of how the Creator of the universe in human form makes the ultimate sacrifice for all humanity, offering salvation to all who believe. The script written for Tyler Perry as host and narrator is a live, modern retelling of the Passion of Christ with contemporary songs, a procession carrying a large cross along a route ending at the production’s stage, and modern reenactments of the last days of Christ with His disciples. This modern format originated in Europe, specifically Britain and the Netherlands, and is connected to the medieval passion plays.
Tyler’s voice can be heard this Christmas, along with an array of stars who voice other characters, in The Star, a lovely animated movie for children this Christmas.
To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard