On Tuesday night, bloggers and writers from various media outlets were invited as special guests for an intimate dinner with author, Melvin Childs, at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in Grand Central Station in New York City. Who is Melvin Childs? Well, according to him, he is the man who discovered Tyler Perry. Yes, the multi-millionaire, and media tycoon of the television and film franchises House of Payne, Meet The Browns, and his breakout Madea character movies. Oh, yeah, we can’t forget Tyler Perry Studios based out of Atlanta, GA.
Melvin Childs gathered the media because he wanted to set the story straight. A producer from Oklahoma City, OK, Melvin wanted to let the world know that had it not been for him there probably would not be a Tyler Perry. There probably would not be a Madea, and there probably would not be a black media tycoon taking Hollywood by storm.
In Melvin Childs’s new book, Never Would Have Made It – The Rise of Tyler Perry, the Most Powerful Entertainer in Black America (And What It Really Took To Get Him There), he shares his personal story of how he discovered Tyler Perry and how their relationship eventually ended. But, Melvin Childs admitted that he wrote this book because he wanted to help other young aspiring artists, and those interested in a career in entertainment.
Dining over steaks in the bustling and illuminating Grand Central Station, Melvin Childs, an unassuming man, stood and addressed all of us in attendance. With a broad smile, Melvin shared how he was introduced to Tyler Perry many years ago in Atlanta. He was invited to Tyler Perry’s first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” and said he was hooked on the content of the play. “There wasn’t a Madea character in the play,” Melvin said. “The play was very spiritual and uplifting. It was a gospel play, but the story was similar to Tyler’s own upbringing of molestation and abuse.”
After experiencing the play, Melvin shared that he was willing to take a chance with Tyler Perry because he was, “very talented and very creative. He had ‘it.’”
A homeless and broke Tyler Perry became Melvin Childs’s newest project. He took care of Tyler. He helped Tyler Perry and put him up in a cheap hotel, and according to Melvin Childs he began devising a way to get money to properly fund Tyler Perry’s first play. “Nobody was interested in Tyler,” Melvin said. “He was a nobody, but I knew there was something about him.”
With his connections, Melvin Childs was able to get the money, but from less than savory resources. “Tyler was oblivious to where the money came from,” Melvin said. “I admit that we all were young and made lots of mistakes.”
In some exclusive excerpts from Melvin Childs’s book, he writes, “To ascend to the level of celebrity, you have to want it to the point of desperation. It has to consume and dominate your every waking moment. It has to be the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing you think about at night. And if you want something, anything, that badly you will be willing to do just about anything to get it. Show me someone as famous as Tyler Perry and I will show you someone who, at some point, sacrificed his or her integrity at the altar of fame.”
He goes on to write, “Taking money from a drug dealer was never questioned. We saw it as a blessing because to us, he was that dude. Now if you were to look up “that dude” in the dictionary you would probably find a picture of Chico. He had it all – designer suits, five hundred dollar shoes, expensive cars and a stable of beautiful women at his disposal. Everything about the man absolutely reeked of money.”
Melvin goes on to tell of how much money he received –
“How much you need?” Chico asked as we gathered our things to go home.
“$100,000 would be nicely.” I replied.
“We split what comes back 50/50?”
“Right down the middle.” I said confidently.
“Alright my man, come down to Miami and I’ll take care of you.” He said with a smile. “Just let me know when you’re coming.”
Finally, Melvin writes how anyone willing to make it in the entertainment business will do anything to make it to the top, “…if you want something bad enough, you will be willing to do just about anything to get it. I am no different from anyone else in that regard. I walked away from a family that needed me and, essentially, left them to fend for themselves while I was hustling down in Atlanta, trying to launch Tyler Perry’s career. Getting that show back up was my only concern. Everything else, including family, was a distant second and would have to wait.”
“As ugly as that sounds, I was more than willing to make that sacrifice. You have to understand, it’s not just the Will Smith’s or Tyler Perry’s of the world that make difficult choices for the sake of their dreams. Behind every Tyler Perry there is somebody else who is just as willing, if not more so, to do whatever it takes. Someone crazy or foolish enough to put himself in harm’s way for the sake of something he or she perceives to be bigger than they are. Only their stories are rarely told because what they had to do is often contrary to the image that has been created for the celebrity in question.”
“But that doesn’t lessen our contribution to their success. I have no problem recognizing Tyler Perry’s talent but here is the worst kept secret in the world. You do not make it in this business based on talent. Talent is not enough. It wasn’t enough then, it’s no enough now and it won’t be enough tomorrow. Without someone standing in the shadows, hustling and grinding for him, Tyler Perry is not Tyler Perry. He is just another cautionary tale of big, unrealistic dreams that come crashing down to earth at the feet of the monster we call maturity.”
Melvin Childs reveals another shocking revelation in his book regarding Tyler Perry and the success of his first play, and his continued success, “If you want to know how Tyler Perry went from being a virtual nobody to selling out the House of Blues, the answer is simple. He was able to buy $45,000 of advertising. How was he able to do that? We gambled a hundred thousand dollars of drug money without regard to our personal safety or that of our families. That is how it happened and that is what separated him from all the other talented artists out there struggling to make it.”
“For anyone who simply doesn’t believe Tyler would have done that, I am sorry but you are being naïve. Just as naïve as anyone who thinks Tyler Perry is the only celebrity to get his start this way. For good or bad, that’s the way the entertainment business works and any aspiring performer who buys into the fantasy Tyler puts out as his bio is dooming himself to failure because it doesn’t happen that way. It didn’t for Tyler and it won’t for you.”
Melvin Childs’s book, Never Would Have Made It – The Rise of Tyler Perry, the Most Powerful Entertainer in Black America (And What It Really Took To Get Him There), is available wherever books are sold and also on Amazon.com.
You can also visit his website, HERE!
About Melvin Childs:
Over the last 15 years, few individuals have been more innovative in the entertainment industry than Melvin Childs. At the same time, probably nobody in America has worked harder behind the scenes to launch the careers of beginning writers. Some might consider him a great producer with a special eye for talent, while others might call him a shrewd, no-nonsense business man. Whichever view you take of Melvin Childs, the story of his role as the Executive Producer of Tyler Perry’s first national tour is nothing short of remarkable.
Having started out in the radio industry, Mr. Childs was able to meet and work with many veteran promoters and producers very early on in his career. These industry vets fueled his aspirations to become one of the best in the business. His willingness to gamble on young talent put him in a position to work side-by-side, with Tyler Perry on his first national touring project ‘I Know I’ve Been Changed’. That successful tour is the one that ultimately led to Tyler’s success and spawned his multi-million dollar empire.