Shannon Sharpe Defends Movie Producer Tyler Perry Wearing Dresses On Film

The long, complicated history of men donning dresses in Hollywood goes back decades. It has been an easy cash grab, particularly for black comedians, from Martin Lawrence to Eddie Murphy. Few have made quite as much money as Tyler Perry. Shannon Sharpe argues that he would do the same if he was cashing Madea’s checks.

Tyler Perry is not the first man to make a movie dressed as a woman, but he is probably one of the first to make a billion-dollar franchise off it besides RuPaul. Unlike RuPaul, Tyler Perry is a straight man, so the decision to don a dress and wig comes with a lot of scrutiny, especially from the black community. Actor Katt Williams has historically been critical of dressing up as a woman for laughs. Actor Brandon T. Jackson outright claims it destroyed his career.

However, Tyler Perry has stuck by the character of Madea. With her at the forefront of his film and television empire, Perry has become a media mogul. He’s got a massive production studio down in Atlanta where he shoots all of his work. Marvel films are even shot there. He also has a partnership with Netflix, which has become the new home for a lot of his properties. The streaming giant also convinced him to bring Madea out of retirement after he attempted to put the character to rest.

Rickey Smiley recently stopped by Shannon Sharpe’s show, where they discussed actors who have dressed up as women for laughs. Smiley has a character named Bernice Jenkins that he is famous for. Smiley says that these portrayal work because the characters are based on women we all “grew up with.” When Sharpe asked Smiley about Tyler Perry, Smiley recalls shooting a pilot with Perry and Niecy Nash years ago before Madea took off. Even then, Smiley remembers Perry having a super clear vision of what he wanted and admits he is not shocked by his success.

Smiley argues that Tyler, Martin, Jamie Foxx, Robin Williams, and all other comics who have donned a dress for a role do it out of the love of comedy. Shannon jokes that for a billion, he’d wear a bikini.

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