Entertainment

Does Tyler Perry’s role in Harry & Meghan have a deeper meaning?


When the news first broke it Meghan Markle and Prince Harry living in Los Angeles Mansion owned by Tyler Perry, that was a bit of a surprise. Over time, it became clear that Perry, the entertainment mogul best known for his films and TV shows that focused on Black stories, had a “front row seat” with Meghan and Harry’s new American life, as he included it in an Instagram post in August, but not until Netflix documentaries Harry & Meghan that Three friends open up about how they met. Perry turned out to be so important to the couple that he is now godfather to their one-year-old daughter, Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.

To the end Harry & Meghan, Perry’s role in the family’s life and in the series makes perfect sense. He explained that he initially contacted Meghan after noticing that her father, Thomas Markle, seems to be cooperating with the press. A few years later, they struck up a friendship when he validated her fear for safety and helped her find a place where the family could stay in the early months after officially leaving the royal family. For those familiar with Perry’s work, it’s clear that their connection has a deeper meaning. Themes such as betrayal, abuse, and family rescue all run through the work of the gospel playwright turned independent filmmaker, especially early films like Diary of a psychotic black woman or Madea’s family reunion.

Because Tamika Carey, an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, Perry’s presence in the royal saga is more than a pleasant surprise. Hers academic work focus on Black women’s literature in addition to more mainstream self-help texts, such as Oprah, Perry, and Iyanla Vanzant. In her 2016 book Healing rhetoric: Contemporary Black Women’s Reform, she has carefully read Perry’s work to understand how his depiction of abuse and how overcoming or responding to it reflects broader themes in American life. In her article on Perry, Carey criticized the way his work sometimes falls into the stereotype of Black women and families, while understanding its echoes.

This week, Vanity Fair spoke with Carey to get an overview of the connection between Perry’s work and his role in Meghan and Harry’s lives, as well as how to understand the stories in Harry & Meghan can help us become more empathetic.

“I’m thinking about the concept of sanctuary and what that means, for the visible characters, and the attention we’re seeing to this runaway, the fundamental escape. This, in turn, will push us to better understand the complex lives these individuals lead,” she said. “What kind of additional sensitivity and knowledge can we develop in our relationship as audience members of the royal family?”

Vanity Fair: The documentary clearly focuses on the racial politics of the British media, but the inclusion of Tyler Perry and Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, of course means I’m thinking about race in America when I watch it. What do you think of Meghan Markle as an icon for Americans? What does she mean to us?

Tamika Carey: For a feminist icon, I think, she exudes a special kind of grace in the midst of attack. She used her ability to tell a unique and consistent story about that abuse in a really good way. She’s a model who speaks out about her own experiences without remorse, and those are the things that I think will be part of her legacy and part of the way we see her in a movie. long time. One of the other themes that I see is the influence of the mother’s experience. Meghan’s hometown, in fact, they went to California again as a couple. How Tyler Perry is using the experiences of both his mother as well as Princess Diana as ways to understand what Megan is going through.

There was an early episode where she mentioned that she didn’t have to think much about the race [before her relationship with Harry]. Unfortunately, I know a lot of cynical black women who said, “How come you don’t have to think about race?” Racial politics is less obvious to me, simply because I can’t ignore it. I’m not sure how to put those two together.

Oh, completely. I think her initial displeasure with race speaks volumes for why Perry’s role in the story is so compelling, because he’s such a good interpreter of black Americans. On the show’s sixth episode, his relationship with Meghan sounds almost like a therapist. As someone very familiar with Perry and his work, what do you think about that?

Obviously, we can read documentaries as a way to regain some control of the story, which, in cultural therapy, is a kind of interesting move in and of itself. Like, ‘We’re going to get through this. We will tell the story from our vantage point.’ That particular episode brings it to a more positive ending than I thought we’d get. It’s certainly not sugar, but I didn’t expect it to come to this conclusion the way it did.

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