Madea is Back: A Chat With Tyler, Brandon and Brendan

For Tyler in particular, Madea’s return was about the state of the world. For him, Madea’s presence-when dealing with COVID lockdowns and restrictions, social injustice and civil unrest was necessary.

Read more of our convo with Tyler now!

Madea is back, after a family funeral for the ages in 2019. That film was followed up with a sold out Farewell Tour in 2020 and it seemed like the legendary matriarch was never coming back to screens near us. Fans were sad to see her go, but pleased at the potential for even more stories from the mind of Tyler Perry, prolific in a way few are. So in 2021, when Tyler announced that Madea was returning for a 12th film in the franchise, fans were shocked-and pleased. I had the opportunity to talk to Tyler, as well as Brandon Black and Brendan O’Carroll about their roles in the film-and what they hope this film brings to people who watch it. 

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry

For Tyler in particular, Madea’s return was about the state of the world. For him, Madea’s presence-when dealing with COVID lockdowns and restrictions, social injustice and civil unrest was necessary. He further emphasized that:

“I just wanted us to laugh. I don’t know the last time we had a good hard belly laugh. So that’s what the purpose of this was.”


Brandon Black’s reasons were a bit more personal. This was a project that was personal to him in a very specific way. Being able to play Tim, a recent college graduate with a few secrets he needs to share, seems to have been almost cathartic for him. Growing up, Brandon felt as if he’d have to choose between being an actor or being gay-and that was on top of the struggle it can be to be Black and gay. Brandon says: 

“It was great to have that responsibility. These are things that I’ve always wanted to talk about, and Tim is exactly the kind of character I wanted to work through because he is well-spoken. He is, he’s put together. It’s not some tragedy that he’s gay. He’s kind of anticipating it might be to his family. But from what I got and how I played, it was that even if they thought it was going to be this big thing, he still knew for himself that he’s a gay man, and that’s why he and his best friend already talked about it. It’s like, I hope they react the right way, but I’m me, and that’s just what is going to be.”

Brandon Black
Brandon Black

This time around Madea deals with a few issues at once. There’s Tim’s coming out, a May-September romance, pro and anti-police sentiment and a divorce going haywire to contend with. Because all of those topics might get a bit controversial, I asked Tyler why he continued to craft art featuring Madea-in spite of constant pushback. For Tyler, his art is all about the people who do enjoy what Madea brings to their screens. He doesn’t feel as if he has to be all things for everyone, especially because we’re living in a time where Black creators are telling myriad stories. 

“I don’t worry about the pushback, because the millions of people that love it-that’s the focus. Madea doesn’t have to be all things for everyone and Madea can be exactly what Madea is. White people don’t deal with that. They don’t deal with ‘You have to do this’ or ‘You have to do that’. So it’s unfair for Black people to have to say ‘I have to be this for all people.’. So I don’t do that. I’m focusing on Madea and this moment and what it’s going to do for people. I’m glad there are a lot of creators of color doing things that other people may love.”


And speaking of things that other people may love. This time around, Madea is joined by a neighbor from across the pond. Agnes Brown (of Mrs. Brown’s Boys fame) is clashing with Madea and family this go round. Similar to Madea, Agnes is portrayed by a man. In this case, Brendan O’Carroll, who gave me quite a laugh with his joy at pronouncing my name correctly. For him joining the cast of A Madea homecoming, felt like…well coming home. 

“You know, we (himself and Jennifer Gibney-who portrays Cathy Brown) were genuinely nervous going there. And because, really, we were the only two white people in the cast. And we were a bit nervous that we wouldn’t fit in and they were established. I mean, they’ve been working together for 20 years, like our own cast for Mrs. Brown’s Boys. So you don’t know how it’s gonna gel. But we couldn’t have been welcomed more. I mean, we were welcomed with open arms. And honestly, within the first day, we genuinely both felt like we were part of the family. So it was a very easy transition.”


For Brandon the feeling was similar.  The environment was collaborative and ego free. It made him feel like he was just as much of a someone as the other actors on set. 

“There were no egos. Everybody was collaborative. Everybody was helpful. And so I think there didn’t feel like there was any kind of weird hierarchy because they’ve all worked together so much. It allowed me to kind of slip in and kind of set myself up and feel like I’m somebody in here too, you know, and they were like: ‘Yes, yes, you are somebody,’ you know? It was cool.” 


Ultimately, it seems like every cast member had the same goal. When it came to how they wanted their audience to come away from the film, they all wanted the audience to laugh, to see new perspectives, to feel unified. 

“I think that’s what I want people to pull away from. Tim’s story at the end of the movie is that you got to be yourself. You’ve got to be yourself. And everyone else has to come along with it. If they love you enough. Tim’s family loves him enough. They’re going to come along with it, or they already know they want you to be happy more than anything else. So be yourself. And also, I hope people laugh a lot because the whole goal for Tyler Perry with this movie was to make people laugh. He would start each day with a prayer: ‘Let’s make people laugh. Things have been hard.’”

Tyler Perry, Brendan O'Carrol and Gabrielle Dennis in A Madea Homecoming
Tyler Perry, Brendan O’Carrol and Gabrielle Dennis in A Madea Homecoming

“I hope they have a sore stomach from laughing because that was the whole point of it. You know, we weren’t trying to make a movie that had a message, we weren’t trying to make a movie that can make people think.  We were trying to make a movie the opposite. We’re trying to make movies that would just flow over people and that they would laugh. They would sit with their family and watch it on TV. And just have a laugh. We started every day with a prayer. And the prayer would be that God would give us the energy and the talent to make people’s lives a little happier. True laughter and I think we nailed that.”


As for what might be next for Madea-Tyler’s unsure. He’s just trying to make it through the release of this film, but obviously with Madea out of retirement-at least for now-there’s more to come. 

Brendan doesn’t write off the idea of Mrs. Brown crossing the pond again-or maybe even vice versa!

“I would love to do it again. And when Tyler and I sat down together-five years ago, and we looked at the various things we could do.  With Mrs. Brown and her family and Madea and her family, Madea and her family would go on safari together, or they would go to visit the Pope and you know, have a road trip together across America. And any of those would work.  Ultimately, It’s gonna down to the people at Netflix that are going to make the decision in the end. But both of us would be keen to do it again. He’s a joy to work with.”


I hope this interview gets you all ready for A Madea Homecoming-and don’t forget to come back and let us know how you felt about it in the comments below!

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