Historically, Black men in drag have been problematic. In a world in which Black men are often emasculated, the practice of dressing in drag comes across as a self-induced wound. The practice wouldn’t be as detrimental if there were better representation of Black men in the movies and on TV. The fact that Perry has leaned so hard into the practice is seen at best as detrimental and at worst a betrayal.
However, if you look beyond the fact that Perry has earned a billion dollars mostly from laughs generated by putting on a dress and pretending to be an overly loud and playfully obnoxious matriarch figure, you’ll see that he has very slyly and cleverly positioned himself on the front lines of the fight for diversity in Hollywood, and has centered and highlighted stories of Black women throughout his career. As the creator and producer of a different MCU (the Madea Cinematic Universe), Perry has produced a shocking amount of content in a relatively short amount of time celebrating stories that Hollywood often ignores.
The mogul who built his own production complex, on a former Confederate military base in Atlanta, just to add even more brazen context to the situation, has directed 23 feature films and created multiple scripted series.
At the center of nearly every movie and TV show Perry cranks off of his assembly-line is a Black woman. Perry consistently hires Black women of all hues, ages, and sexual orientation. He invites cinematic legends, A-list movie stars, Oscar winners, R&B superstars, high-profile comedians, and up-and-coming social media influencers to his cinematic parties.
Hip hop mogul and sometime rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs famously once said, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” That pretty much sums up Perry who is constantly providing Black women not only with opportunities to shine on screen and on TV but a livelihood. Perry writes checks and lots of scripts. The script writing has also been a point of contention as Perry is often condemned for being a man who writes so many stories about the female experience. Perry always defends his tactic by stating how he was raised and heavily influenced by his mother and favorite aunt, allowing their voices to come through in his work.