As his popularity grew, so did Madea's following.
I loved her from day one! In so many ways, she reminded me of my Madea. Quite a few people that are guilty of taking life far to serious were offended by Mr. Perry's character - claiming she was a poor and derogatory depiction of what true Madea's are actually like.
I say true Madea's because just about every African American family in America currently has or had a Madea. I'm not sure where the term originated but it's a term of endearment given to many grandmothers in the African American community.
Although most real life Madea's wouldn't dare behave like the law breaking, fight in a minute, curse you like a sailor on screen Madea, there are other characteristics to Perry's character that embody what a true Madea is - wise, strong, spiritual and more than capable of keeping a family together.
Simmons is a reminder of what's missing in so many families today - a strong no nonsense presence....someone who will tell you just like it is - whether you like it not.
Madea is famous for speaking her mind and not apologizing for it.
One of my favorite Madea-ism's was delivered by Madea during one of Perry's stage plays, Madea Goes to Jail - which later became the movie.
I was at home watching the play on DVD. At the time, my life was spiraling out of control - recently separated from my ex-husband, in the midst of a career change and up to my eyeballs in advice from people who were in no shape or condition to offer it.
Mabel Simmons began to speak and this is what she said -
"If somebody wants to walk out of your life, let - them - go!
Some people are meant to come into your life for a lifetime, some for only a season and you got to know which is which. And you're always messing up when you mix those seasonal people up with lifetime expectations.
I put everybody that comes into my life in the category of a tree. Some people are like leaves on a tree.
Some people are like a branch on that tree. You have to be careful with those branches too, cause they'll fool you. They'll make you think they're a good friend and they're real strong but the minute you step out there on them, they'll break and leave you high and dry.
But if you find 2 or 3 people in your life that's like the roots at the bottom of that tree you are blessed. Those are the kind of people that aren't going nowhere. They aren't worried about being seen, nobody has to know that they know you, they don't have to know what they're doing for you but if those roots weren't there, that tree couldn't live.
A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it... just let it go. Let folks go."