Tyler Perry's dream dinner party includes Barack Obama, MLK, JFK, Lena Horne, Oprah Winfrey.
Dinner Party

Tyler Perry

The mogul hosts his ideal dinner party.

Introduction by Brookie McIlvaine
Illustration by Barry Falls
19 October 20222 min read

Tyler Perry has proven time and time again that there’s nothing he can’t do. He’s written, directed, and starred in the blockbuster Madea plays and films, created the first Black major motion picture studio, Tyler Perry Studios, and established a charitable giving foundation, The Perry Foundation. Perry’s first novel, Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, became a New York Times bestseller. With over 1,600 episodes of TV, 24 feature films, 22 plays, countless awards, and two books, Perry has worked to support, entertain, and inform communities around the world for three decades. Here the writer-producer-director of A Jazzman’s Blues, his latest project, which considers love in the time of Jim Crow, shares the guests, menu, and movie screenings for his ideal dinner party. 

Of course, I’d invite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; I have so many questions for him. And knowing so many people who knew him in Atlanta — it’d be really, really powerful to have him there. Lena Horne, who I’ve always wanted to meet, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, and Oprah Winfrey. I would have them all sit down and ask them tons of questions about the state of the world. And my mother, of course. It would be a very small party. If we were doing dinner and a movie, I’d screen anything from Schindler’s List to The Color Purple to Imitation of Life — all those films that moved me in a certain way growing up.

I would serve Southern soul food for sure. I grew up in New Orleans, so there’d be a lot of Cajun soul food, a lot of jambalaya, dirty rice, and yams. And since some of these guests have passed on, it won’t matter if they get high blood pressure or have cholesterol problems anyway. So we’ll all just eat well.