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September 27, 2011 | | Comments 5

Open Letter to Tyler Perry

Dear Mr. Perry,

I recently saw the news headline about you being the highest paid person in Hollywood this year.  This news does not surprise me one bit.  I’ve long known the power of catering to the Black consumer well.  We spend almost $1 trillion a year.  I don’t understand why companies aren’t doing a better job of targeting us, but I’m glad they aren’t because that creates opportunities for Black-owned companies (like yours) to step up and serve Black consumers better than non-Black-owned companies.

You have found a formula that people seem to enjoy.  I’m sure you’re well aware of the criticisms against some of your most popular films, especially ones featuring Madea.  I must admit that I have shared some of those criticisms.  However, I do understand the business rationale behind these movies, and there are some positive messages in them that are to be commended and perpetuated.  I wish I could get the kind of exposure your movies get to promote our clothing line and the positive messages we push with it, like “Smart is the New Gangsta.”  But, although we have a substantial following,  the commercial appeal of such messages just isn’t on the same level…yet.

First, I’m not suggesting that you stop doing what you’re doing or making the movies that you know will be successful.  However, I do have one suggestion.  With all the money you’re making, take $50 million – $100 million and invest in some movies with alternative story lines that will further the cause of Black empowerment.  There are plenty of talented writers and directors that just need funding to get started.  There are tons of stories related to Black people throughout history (especially Africans before the European contamination).  I’ve personally read many books, and I’m sure there are hundreds more, that would make great movies, have significant commercial appeal, and would not rely on the standard Black archetypes and storylines that have been repeated over and over in Black movies to date ad nauseam.

With the initial investment mentioned above, you could create a private equity fund that invests in movies, documentaries, positive music albums and other forms of edu-tainment.  The fund would be managed by professional investors and people with operational experience in the entertainment business.  With your name behind it, the fund could then go out and raise money from other Black athletes and entertainers (who we know need help with investments as 60% of all NBA players go broke within five years of retiring).  Also, for each project the fund could invest a certain percentage of the projected budget, and then the rest could be raised from fans that want to see the project move forward.

For example, I would like to see a movie based on one of Octavia Butler’s novels.  Let’s say the budget for this movie would be $10 million.  The private equity fund could contribute $6 million, and then it would sell 40,000 $100 shares to other Black investors (fans like me) to make up the remaining $4 million.  This investment from the fans would serve three purposes: 1) reduce the amount the fund has to risk on each project so it can invest in more projects, 2) ensure a buzz and word of mouth generated by the thousands of people that invested in the project, and 3) generate wealth in the Black community, and not just for those that are already rich.  Obviously I think all this would be very profitable as I think we have enough non-profits in the world.  We need sustainable businesses to create wealth and jobs in the Black community.  I sincerely believe that, if given the choice, Black people would support positive movies with important lessons that are still entertaining, but not stereotypical.

I have a background in entrepreneurship and strategic business development, and may be useful in the planning and implementation of this idea and some other ideas I have if you are interested.  I hope that this message reaches you and you receive it with an open heart and mind, and in the spirit of a deep love and commitment to my people and our freedom.

Sincerely,
Tre Baker
CEO, dN|Be Apparel
Purveyors of Positive Propaganda
Atlanta, GA

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  1. windell gray says:

    I would like to commend Mr. Perry for all the progress that he has made in the industry. I am sure that it has taken 100 percent of all of his skills, hard work , and prayers to get to this position. Being a black business owner in Arkansas is a day to day struggle. I am the owner of refined Ale Brewery of Little Rock. I am on my way, but when I get there, I must be sure to not spread myself too thin. Mr Perry is one man. We need more people with skills and capital to invest with Mr. Perry. I do like the core concepts of this idea.

  2. Dr. Graymatter says:

    Tre Baker’s core concept is very exciting. I would work my butt off to help make this reality! Mr.Perry, i know you’re busy…have someone close to you look into this, i know you’re fine value in this concept.

    I’m a proud actor looking for better material.

  3. Mark says:

    Hello,
    First I would like to congratulate Mr. Perry for making it to a place very few of us will ever see( fame & fortune). Second I would like to Commend you on a wonderful, wonderful idea. If more of our people lived for each other instead of living for materialism we would be a better people. I would definetely invest my time and money in such a venture. And with a little hard work, we could move that same idea into the school system.

  4. Marcia Judkins says:

    Wow, We always here about the problems; very seldom does anyone offer a solution. Very well done Tre-
    As Americans of African descent we must empower ourselves –
    One dollar or millions of dollars – we all have a voice. – what determines if we are heard or not, is in the actions we take.
    Faith without works is dead.
    ” Smart is NO GANGSTA ” Their is absolutely nothing positive about being a gangsta. What we lack today is truth, especially in our community.People are dieing everyday, lost because they have everything but truth.
    As believers we are not suppose to fit in with everybody else – God has called us to stand apart – be ye separate!
    God Bless !

  5. Ron Bryant says:

    Tre , you are one progressive brotha. i’m very proud of Tyler , but a few having great success and wealth doesn’t insure the survivor of our people. Knowing your history , supporting our own , protecting our investments (our children) DO!! This is why I don’t get too caught up in celebrities. We live in a elitist society and we must change the mindset. I will share your letter. Also, I think we should do some work together sometimes. i’m with you , Bro. peace and stay focused. connect with me sometimes.

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