Tyler Perry's latest e-mail message to fans explains his attraction to the film "Precious," which he is executive producing along with Oprah Winfrey.
The film, which arrives in theaters Nov. 6, tells the story of a 16-year-old Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a high-school student with nothing working in her favor. She is pregnant with her father's child—for the second time. She can't read or write, and her schoolmates tease her for being overweight.
Her home life is ruled by a mother (Mo'Nique) who keeps her imprisoned both emotionally and physically. Precious's instincts tell her one thing: if she's ever going to break from the chains of ignorance, she will have to dig deeply into her own resources.
The film's message struck a chord with Perry, who also had to overcome horrific obstacles in his childhood. Below is an excerpt from his latest e-mail message. [Read the entire version here: http://www.tylerperry.com/_Messages/]
I'm tired of holding this in. I don't know what to do with it anymore, so, I've decided to give some of it away...
Memories at 40: Not long ago, I was asked to speak at an engagement. I walked in and I was told that they had assigned a person to take care of me while I was there. She walked up to me, all of 5'2" of her, and asked if I needed anything. I looked at her and started to sweat. It took me back thirty-something years to her apartment. I couldn't have been more than 10 years old when I went over to play with her son and Matchbox cars.
She opened the door in skimpy lingerie. There was a man sitting on the couch, smoking. She told me that her son was in the bedroom. I was there playing with him about 20 minutes when I heard the man arguing with her. He said he was leaving and slammed the door. She came into the bedroom and told me that I had to go home. She told her son to take a bath and she locked him in the bathroom. I was at the front door trying to get out, when she came in and laid on the sofa and asked me if I wanted the key. I told her I had to go home as it was getting dark. She put the key inside of herself and told me to come get it, pulling me on top of her.
Memories at 40: "What the f*#K are you reading books for?! That's bull*#*T!"
"You F*#*ing jackass! You got book sense but you ain't got no mothaf*#*en common sense! You ain't sh*t and ain't never gonna be sh*t!" I heard this every day of my childhood. As my father would beat and belittle me, he played all kinds of mind games with me. He knew I loved cookies as a kid, most kids do. So he would buy them and put them on top of the fridge and when I would eat them he would beat me mercilessly.
My mother was out one night, as she loved to play bingo, and my father came home...mad at the world. He was drunk, as he was most of the time. He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don't know what would make a person do something like that to a child. But thank God that in my mind, I left. I didn't feel it anymore, just like in PRECIOUS. How this girl would leave in her mind. I learned to use my gift, as it was my imagination that let me escape. After he was done with his rant he passed out. Since my aunt lived two doors down, I ran to her. She saw me and was horrified. She loaded her 357 and went to kill him. Holding a gun to his head, her husband came and stopped her.
Memories at 40: I got a call not long ago from a friend. He told me that a man that I knew from church when I was a kid had died and he didn't have any insurance. His family was trying to reach out to me to see if I would pay for his funeral. I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes.
There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me.
I wish I would have dug the grave myself.
Memories at 40: I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had a crush on a little girl across the street. She would come over to my house and we'd play. She was about 12 or 13. One day she stopped coming and when I asked her why, she told me that my father was touching her. I didn't believe her, so I talked her into staying one night. We were both asleep -- she was in one bed and I was in another. I opened my eyes to see my father trying to touch her and her pushing him away. I moved in my bed trying to make him think I was waking up. He looked over at me and left out of the room. Not long after that, he beat me mercilessly for something again. Another mind game set up, so I told my mother what he had done. The blood drained from her face. We left that day. We were at my Aunt's house and he came there about 1am. Not long after that we were back at home. Nothing would compare to the random, drunken, violent beatings I would receive from then until I was 19.
Memories at 40: We would spend the summers in the country, with my father's adoptive mother. As a kid I was always sick. I had asthma and he hated it. He hated that I wasn't strong and viral like him. He hated that I couldn't be in the sawdust, pollen and the raw lumber like him. He hated that I liked to read and write and draw. He hated that me and my middle sister were darker-skinned than him. He didn't think he could make a dark baby. He just hated everything about me I guess. Anyway, I had to go to the doctor every Tuesday to get shots to control my allergies. When his mother found out she said, "Ain't nothing wrong with that damn boy...he just got germs on him. Stop wasting all that money." When my mother left to visit some friends I heard what sounded like water running in a tub but it was sporadic. She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor. She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia.
Grateful at 40: I was asked recently how I made it through all of this, (half has not even been told) and my answer to that is...I know for a fact that there is a GOD. When my father would say or do those things to me, I would hear this voice inside of me say, "That's not true" or, "Don't believe that" or, "You're going to make it through this". I didn't know at the time what "it" was, but today I surely have no doubt that "it" was GOD. That voice always gave me comfort. It allowed me to hold on. It kept me from being strung out on drugs, from dying when I wanted to commit suicide. It kept me from being a gang banger or drug dealer. Worse than all of those things put together, it kept me from being him. It brought angels to comfort me after every foul, harsh word or every welt on my legs or back. GOD, only GOD.