Ebony Society hosts Tyler Perry mentor

The story behind success: Melvin Childs shares how he discovered talented youths in his book “Never Would Have Made It.” Childs mentored Tyler Perry.

Story by Lizzy Owoyemi

Video by Eloise Herbert

The Cameron University Ebony Society held a book discussion at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 6 in the McCasland Foundation Ballroom. Melvin Childs wrote the book, “Never Would Have Made It,” and was the focus of the event.

The event started with an introduction from Derrick Smith, the Ebony Society President and a junior double Business and History major. He introduced the special guests, including Elder Sam Rhodes from the Lawton Christian Center.

A short movie trailer was played to introduce Melvin Childs, the author of the book. Childs has been in the entertainment industry for 15 years working behind the scenes to launch the careers of beginning writers. He started out in the radio industry, working with many veteran promoters and producers very early in his career. His willingness to discover young talents led to his relationship with Tyler Perry, a man known as one of the most powerful black American entertainers.

According to Childs, “Never Would Have Made It” is a book not only for Tyler Perry’s fans, but also for young people seeking to break into the entertainment industry. The book is in part an instructional text for aspiring entertainment entrepreneurs.

“The book is about life, moving on and never giving up,” Childs said. “It is about lessons learned by three young naïve people as they attempted to succeed in the sometimes unforgiving world of entertainment.”

He said the book gives a candid insight about one of the most successful and compelling contemporary figures in Black America.


As Elder Sam Rhodes anchored the dialogue section, Childs explained what motivated him to write the book.

“Tyler Perry is the single most talented person I have ever met,” Childs said. “He worked to get where he is today, but he did not do it alone. I have a fascinating story to tell that can help others succeed in life by focusing on what is truly important.”

In the book, Childs gives a description of the journey he embarked upon with Perry when they were young men. He said he met Perry when he was an amateur in the industry, and it was difficult for people to receive him and notice his talent. Childs recognized the unique talent Perry possessed and foresaw the success the playwright would have. Together with a friend, Nia Hill, the producer of “Sunday Best,” Childs brought Perry’s work to the stage by ensuring that his business partners had the financial backing needed to advertise and stage the play.  The result was the selling-out of Perry’s play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed” at Atlanta’s House of Blues in 1998.

Childs also explained how he learned the ins and outs of the entertainment industry and offers advice to people who are new to the entertainment business. From detailing the hardships of promoting a large production from an unknown artist to explaining the importance of controlling projects on every level, monitoring finances and keeping impartial and critical eye on projects, Childs recounts his misfortunes and lessons learned so that others can hopefully find a smoother path on the road to success in entertainment.

Also, Childs warns of the risk one takes when the line between friendship and business is crossed. He said his own experiences have taught him that when a producer is forced to make an unpopular decision for business reasons, that decision can have disastrous and long-lasting repercussions on personal relationships.

Derrick Smith said it was a privilege to have the man who is partially behind Tyler Perry’s success story visit Cameron University.

“It was a unique idea to bring him down to Cameron,” Smith said. “This gave people the opportunity to learn from the man who was instrumental in Tyler’s success and launched his career.”

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