Mabel "Madea" Earlene Simmons is a character created and portrayed by Tyler Perry. She is a tough, elderly African-American woman.[1]

Madea photo.png
Madea serving time in prison for committing a series of crimes in Madea Goes to Jail
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byTyler Perry
Portrayed byTyler Perry
In-universe information
Full nameMabel Earlene Simmons
  • "Big Mabel" Murphy


  • Frederick (brother)
  • Joe (brother)
  • Irene Andrews (sister; deceased)
  • Heathrow (brother)
  • Helen McCarter (granddaughter)
  • Orlando (grandson in law; via Helen)
  • Gina (granddaughter)
  • Maylene "Maylee" Griffith (granddaughter)
  • Vianne (granddaughter)
  • Bobby (grandson in-law) via Vianne
  • Lisa (granddaughter)
  • Tina (granddaughter)
  • Jackie (granddaughter)
  • LaKeisha Griffith (great-granddaughter)
  • Shemar (great-granddaughter)
  • Johnny Simmons (deceased)
  • 16 unnamed husbands
  • Michelle Griffin (deceased)
  • William Simmons (deceased)
  • Cora Jean Simmons
  • Vickie (niece)
  • Shirley (niece)
  • Angela (niece)
  • Mike (great-nephew)
  • Sonny (nephew)
  • Brian Simmons (nephew)
  • Tiffany Simmons (great-niece)
  • BJ Simmons (great-nephew)
  • Victoria Breaux (niece)
  • Lisa Breaux-Henderson (great-niece)
  • Vanessa Breaux (great-niece)
  • Nima (great-niece)
  • Jonathan (great-nephew)
  • Ruby (aunt)
  • Eileen Murphy (niece)
  • Lacey Murphy (great-niece)

Madea is based on Perry's mother and his aunt. In Perry's own words Madea is "exactly the PG version of my mother and my aunt, and I loved having an opportunity to pay homage to them. She would beat the hell out of you but make sure the ambulance got there in time to make sure they could set your arm back".[2]

Fictional biographyEdit

Early yearsEdit

Madea was born in Greensburg, Louisiana,[3] on June 26, 1935, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her maiden name is unknown, but it is presumably either Baker or Murphy as they were the last names of her father and mother, respectively. (Madea was 65 in the first play, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, as well as Madea's Class Reunion. Her ages in the other plays are unknown because they take place between these two plays, and there's no continuity offered. In Madea Goes to Jail, Madea was around 75). In "I Can Do Bad All by Myself," she reveals she once lived in Cleveland, Ohio, but later returned to Atlanta. Madea was a hooker and a stripper.

Madea was brought up in poverty and grew up living in a shotgun house with her parents and siblings. Madea has stated that although her family didn't have much, they had love.[4] She even claimed that her daddy would go outside and hunt for dogs and cook them on the stove to eat for dinner. According to Family Reunion, Madea's mother, "Big Mabel" Murphy, was a hooker during Madea's childhood and was not at all religious. As a result, Madea grew up with little knowledge of religion (as an elderly woman, Madea has a tendency to misquote the Bible).

She attended Booker T. Washington High School, where she served as a cheerleader. When Madea was 16, her parents moved her and the rest of her immediate family to Atlanta, Georgia, in a barn house. It was reported in Madea's book, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, that Madea's mother and father wouldn't allow her to go out at all until she turned 18.

Criminal backgroundEdit

Madea's criminal record began at age 9 with a charge of theft. She was charged with her first felony at this age, and her crimes began progressing to illegal gambling at age 18, which later evolved into check fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud (related to her nine deceased husbands), assault, attempted murder, and vehicle theft.

In Diary of a Mad Black Woman alone, Madea and her granddaughter Helen McCarter were both charged with "criminal trespassing, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a handgun, assault with a deadly weapon, [driving on a] suspended license, expired registration, reckless driving, and a broken taillight", which placed Madea on house arrest, while her granddaughter was bailed for $5,000.

Media and entertainment featuring MadeaEdit

Madea has appeared in several plays (some of which have been recorded for repeated viewing), fully produced films, a couple of television programs (guest appearances), one book and one animated film. The character made her first appearance in the 1999 play I Can Do Bad All by Myself, later appearing in numerous other plays by Perry, then appearing in films based on those plays.

Plays (including recorded plays)Edit


Animated filmEdit

Television seriesEdit

House of Payne (guest appearances)Edit

In the TBS comedy-drama House of Payne pilot episode "Bully and the Beast", Madea was the foster mother of Nikki. She factored into the plot through a school altercation between her adopted daughter and Curtis Payne's (the series' protagonist) great-nephew Malik. Curtis takes a particular disliking to Madea, who is not in the least bit intimidated by Curtis at all. Rather conversely, Curtis became intimidated by Madea and had nightmares about her.[6]

In the episode "The Wench Who Saved Christmas", Curtis tries to discourage everyone from having the Christmas spirit. He later fell asleep and dreamt that Madea was the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. In this form, she tried to teach him a lesson about his killjoy behavior.[7]

In the episode "Wife Swap", Curtis' wife Ella chastises him for taking her for granted. That night, Curtis has an extended nightmare where he is married to Madea instead of Ella.[8]

Meet the Browns (mentioned)Edit

On another TBS series, Meet the Browns, Madea is said to be the mother of Cora Simmons as a result of a one-night stand with the show's lead character, She is an unseen character throughout the series.[9]

Love Thy Neighbor (guest appearance)Edit

On January 21, 2015, Madea made a special guest appearance in the Oprah Winfrey Network comedy series, Love Thy Neighbor. The episode titled "Madea's Pressure Is Up" aired as part of the 3rd season of Love Thy Neighbor.

Cast and charactersEdit

List indicator(s)
  • This table shows the principal characters and the actors who have portrayed them throughout the franchise.
  • A dark grey cell indicates that the character did not appear or that the character's presence has yet to be announced.
  • A Y indicates a role as a younger version of character portrayed by another actor.
  • A U indicates an uncredited role.
  • A P indicates a photographic role.
  • A C indicates a cameo role.
  • A V indicates a voice-only role.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage or stills.
Character Films Television series
Diary of a Mad Black Woman Madea's Family Reunion Meet the Browns Madea Goes to Jail I Can Do Bad All by Myself Madea's Big Happy Family Madea's Witness Protection A Madea Christmas Madea's Tough Love Boo! A Madea Halloween Boo 2! A Madea Halloween A Madea Family Funeral House of Payne Meet the Browns Love Thy Neighbor The Paynes
2005 2006 2008 2009 2011 2012 2013 2015 2016 2017 2019 2007-2012 2009-2011 2013-2017 2018
Mabel "Madea" Simmons Tyler Perry Tyler PerryC Tyler Perry Tyler Perry Tyler PerryP Tyler Perry Tyler PerryP
Uncle Joe Simmons
Brian Simmons
Cora Simmons Tamela Mann Tamela Mann Tamela Mann Tamela Mann
Nikki Grady-Simmons Keke Palmer Keke Palmer
Mr. Leroy Brown David Mann David Mann David Mann
Curtis Payne LaVan Davis LaVan Davis LaVan Davis
Will Brown Lamman Rucker Lamman Rucker
Michael Brown
Calvin Payne
Lance Gross Lance Gross Lance Gross
Ella Payne (née Williams)
Betty Ann "Aunt Bam" Murphy
Cassi Davis Cassi Davis Cassi Davis
Hattie Mae Love Patrice Lovely Patrice Lovely Patrice Lovely
Tiffany Simmons Diamond White


Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Perry wrote the book in the character's persona. The book was published on April 11, 2006.



In 2009, Entertainment Weekly put the character on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Whether she's going to jail or just opening up a can of whupass, Tyler Perry's Madea is the profane, gun-toting granny you never had but (maybe) wish you did."[10]

Parody and satireEdit

  • In early December 2012, Madea was parodied on Saturday Night Live by actor Jamie Foxx.[11]
  • In the American Dad! episode "Spelling Bee My Baby," Steve Smith deliberately misspelled his words in a spelling bee so as to express his love for Akiko (who was also competing), instead spelling random Tyler Perry/Madea films.[12]
  • The character was parodied on The Boondocks episode "Pause", in which a thinly disguised version of Perry named Winston Jerome plays a similar character to Madea called Ma Duke.[13]
  • The character, and Perry himself, were both spoofed on South Park in the Season 15 episode Funnybot as an unfunny comedian who was the secret pleasure of Token and Barack Obama, two African Americans, and who was the only comedian who Jimmy Valmer was confident would show up for a faux-award at a comedy show
  • Madea was spoofed in the film Scary Movie 5.[14]
  • In A Haunted House 2, the church ladies say they're going to see Madea's latest film, Madea Goes to Mars.
  • A few episodes of The Cleveland Show feature a character named Auntie Momma, who is a large, loud woman, who is later revealed to be the cross-dressing alter ego of Donna's uncle Kevin.

Orlando Jones's April Fools prankEdit

On April 1, 2013, Orlando Jones pulled an April Fools' Day prank, informing the public via his Huffington Post account that he would be replacing Perry as Madea. Jones led the public to believe that the decision had come amid Perry's prior obligations, assisting Oprah Winfrey with her struggling OWN network. As part of the prank, Jones released a photo of himself to the public in which he was impersonating Madea. In addition, he incorporated several pretend quotes seemingly issued by Perry, both acknowledging the news and giving Jones his blessing to continue on with the character. Unaware of the prank, fans responded with outrage and criticism. As result of increasing outcries from fans, Perry informed the public on April 15, 2013, that the news was untrue. Perry was quoted as stating, "That was an April Fool's joke that HE did. Not true. And not funny. When I'm done with Madea, she is done."[15]


Perry has been accused of minstrelsy and playing into black stereotypes with the Madea character, most notably by fellow black director Spike Lee. Perry's argument with Lee dates back to a 2009 interview in which Lee referred to Perry's films as "coonery buffoonery".[16] Lee equated the Madea movies with the old-time minstrel shows which lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious and happy-go-lucky,[17][18] and further stated that if a white director made a movie depicting black people in such a manner he would be ostracized.[16]

Perry responded by stating that his films were meant as entertainment and should not be taken so seriously. Stated Perry, "I am sick of him talking about me. I am sick of him saying, 'This is a coon, this is a buffoon.' I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: 'You vote by what you see'—as if black people don't know what they want to see. I am sick of him. He talked about Whoopi, he talked about Oprah, he talked about me, he talked about Clint Eastwood. Spike needs to shut the hell up!"[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Austerlitz, Saul (2010). Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy. Chicago Review Press. p. 444. Retrieved 2012-12-30. Madea avenging.
  2. ^ "Tyler Perry Transforms: From Madea To Family Man". NPR. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  3. ^ Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture - Sheri Parks - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  4. ^ Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited ... - Tyler Perry - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (22 June 2017). "Two Tyler Perry Movies Get 2018 Release Dates".
  6. ^ "Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Vol. 1: Episodes 1-20 [3 Discs] - DVD". 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  7. ^ "Preview: Tyler Perry's Madea visits House of Payne - Today's News: Our Take". 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  8. ^ (2008-05-08). "Tyler Perry's House Of Payne - Season 4, Episode 1: Wife Swap". Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  9. ^ "Meet the Browns TV show | canceled + renewed TV shows". TV Series Finale. 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  10. ^ Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "The 100 Greatest Movies, TV Shows, Albums, Books, Characters, Scenes, Episodes, Songs, Dresses, Music Videos, and Trends That Entertained Us Over the Past 10 Years". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  11. ^ McGlynn, Katla (2012-12-09). "Tyler Perry's Madea Meets 'Alex Cross' On Jamie Foxx 'SNL' Episode (Video)". Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  12. ^ McFarland, Kevin (2013-04-29). ""The Full Cognitive Redaction Of Avery Bullock By The Coward Stan Smith" | American Dad | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  13. ^ Braxton, Greg (2010-06-21). "Aaron McGruder's Boondocks' lampoons Tyler Perry". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Scott, Tracy. "Tyler Perry calls Orlando Jones' news 'not true and not funny'". Archived from the original on 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  16. ^ a b Spike Lee on Black Enterprise. Retrieved 2012-12-29 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ The Coon Character, Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  18. ^ John Kenrick, A History of the Musical: Minstrel Shows, 1996, revised 2003. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  19. ^ Yamato, Jen (2011-04-20). "Madea's Tyler Perry Blasts Spike Lee: 'Spike Can Go Straight to Hell!'". Movieline. Retrieved 2012-12-29.

External linksEdit