Tina Gordon Chism’s name may not be instantly recognizable but her pen has given us Drumline and ATL. And, now with Peeples, also known as Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, she’s also added director to her bag of talents. Starring Craig Robinson and Kerry Washington, with David Alan Grier and S. Epatha Merkerson in a surprisingly funny role for her as main supporting cast, Peeples is hilarious.
Virginia native Chism admits to looking towards her own family for many of the heart and laughs. Regarding Diahann Carroll’s role in the film, particularly her reaction to her granddaughter’s unspoken lesbianism, Chism says “that conversation is based on my actual grandmother.”
Also, she had no hesitation casting Craig Robinson, who is better known as a supporting cast member of The Office, as the lead romantic role opposite Kerry Washington, who filmed Peeples before Scandal came along. “He is just so lovable,” she explains, “and you had to like Wade Walker so it was his lovability and his teddy bear quality and the fact that he is so funny that sort of pushed me to Craig Robinson.”
And though it is posh to bash Tyler Perry and his work these days, Chism says she was never worried about associating herself with Perry, whose team produces Peeples. “A lot of people were worried about that for me because he has a brand that’s so strong and identifiable but it never really concerned me,” she says. “I felt like the movie would speak for itself, and I have such respect for anyone that’s self-made or self-taught.”
Besides she says she actually admires Perry’s achievements. “Separately, in terms of the business side of it, I enjoy seeing a black man [with] that level of power and success in an industry where we don’t get that.”