The Treat: Director and actor Tyler Perry on his friendship with Oprah Winfrey

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“A Jazzman’s Blues” writer and director Tyler Perry calls his friendship with Oprah Winfrey one of his “greatest blessings.” Courtesy of Tyler Perry Studios.

Tyler Perry is the epitome of a multi-hyphenate talent: a writer, director, producer, and actor, perhaps best known for his comic character “Madea” and the franchise’s many productions featuring the tough, elderly, hilarious woman. His latest feature as director and writer, the Deep South drama “A Jazzman’s Blues,” is now on Netflix.

Perry says his friendship with another multi-talented mogul, Oprah Winfey, has been a treat in his life. The two first met when he appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2001, but it wasn’t until she saw “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 2005 that they became friends — and, he says, that she became his “sister” and mentor. 

This segment has been edited for concision and clarity. 

When I think about a treat, I think about something that's special, sweet and desired. The thing that comes to mind is a person who has been an incredible sister-friend to me. She has been incredibly kind, passing on wisdoms, and that's Oprah. 

Oprah Winfrey and “Precious” executive producer Tyler Perry attend the movie’s AFI Fest Premiere at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, on November 1, 2009. Photo courtesy of s_bukley/Shutterstock. 

I remember I got a call saying, “They want you on the Oprah show to talk about ‘Remembering your spirit,’” because I was talking about my play, and so on and so forth. I didn't believe it to be true. I remember walking into the studio and there she was in this lavender dress, and she had these shoes that had silver keys on. I'll never forget it.

I was on stage talking to her. It was all surreal for me, and I felt very much like, “I know you. I know you so well. We're friends.” We had just met. It was years later that we actually became friends, but from that moment I knew it. 

There's no one like her in the world, and no one like her in my life, in the sense that if I'm going through something, she's like, “Oh, I went through that in ‘83. Here's what you do.” Just having that level of mentorship, that level of wealth of information that I can go to, that well anytime I need to pull something, it's really amazing.

Everything you see on television is who she is. To know her personally, to have her as a friend, to have her as a confidant, somebody I can call anytime to talk about anything, has been really a treat in my life and one of the greatest blessings. 



Rebecca Mooney