Maxine’s Baby: A Tyler Perry Masterclass For Emerging Wealth Builders

“Maxine’s Baby” streaming on Prime Video, details Tyler Perry’s rise to wealth against the odds– From navigating abuse and trauma, to overcoming homelessness. The documentary is a lesson in

  • Resilience,
  • Self determination,
  • And self belief.

Although the focal point of the documentary seems to rest in an acknowledgement of Perry’s love for his mother, Maxine and a commitment to paving a way for future generations–there were themes in the documentary around Perry being underestimated, excluded, and eventually accepted for breaking all the rules for traditional success.

Underestimating Black Talent Is Not New

In 2020 when Wells Fargo
CEO mentioned that “the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent” it wasn’t a complete surprise that he felt that way. Outside of the arena of sports entertainment Black talent is frequently underestimated and Hollywood is no different. Much of Perry’s success came from a concentrated audience who would relate to the characters and skits shown in his plays. It was the combination of his hard work and building a community that allowed for him to exceed the expectations of Hollywood executives when they finally decided to give him his shot. Despite the obstacles Perry would overcome in his personal life and professionally, he still had to show up and be the best at what he did. An experience many Black professionals can relate to in navigating a sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken rule that dictates we have to be twice as good to go just as far.

Self Determination Demands Ownership

There were frequent references in the documentary to Perry’s nonnegotiable stance on maintaining creative control and ownership of his work. While there has been a theme of artists and entertainers advocating for owning the rights to your intellectual property, being faced with a decision to sell out for one lump sum prepayment can be the difference between hunger and survival in that moment. Perry created leverage by curating a fanbase that he could interact with via email and a successful track record of sales that he could bring to the table that allowed for him to do what he does best without interference. By discovering a model that works and scaling it, he was able to create massive wealth by simply rinsing and repeating.

When The Odds Are Stacked Against You, Bet On Yourself

Perry frequently reinvested into his projects even with the possibility of losing it all. He mentions navigating criticism from members of his community around the impact of his work with the acceptance that it comes with the territory. Many first generation wealth builders may exist in a sort of limbo around what to do with their newly acquired wealth and more frequently navigate a phenomenon referred to as ‘The Black Tax’ where their perceived wealth is expected to immediately return to the communities from which they came, before an understanding of how to navigate that new wealth or a reinforcement of habits to preserve that wealth are strongly established. While it appears Perry did take to caring for his family and community through philanthropy, it was immediately clear that putting on his own life vest occurred through the reinvestment in his dream first.

While an intimate look at the rise and success of Tyler Perry, this documentary shines a light on familiar obstacles and systems his work aims to dismantle. It especially highlights the mentality of those who navigate the limbo of the wealth building process providing a sort of blueprint of things to anticipate, things to avoid, and things to accept as part of the process.

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