Patrice Lovely’s decision to honor the women who make the backbone of her family is the force behind her Hattie Love character at the center of Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Love is the comical matriarch who rules from her diner with good cooking, humor and a tough devotion to her family. The show was created for Lovely after she kept Perry laughing at a show in Detroit one night. The Alabama native is a theater veteran and Hattie Love was born after years of developing her skills as a comedic actress. The show has come to an end after four seasons but Love lives on in some of Perry’s Madea films. Lovely’s success in being able to make Hattie Love the focus of her own show has not ungrounded her or made her lose any enthusiasm for the work. She spoke to Kick Mag about Love Thy Neighbor, her faith and working with Tyler Perry.
“Tyler is a genius”
I know you created Hattie Love from the women in your family, did any of them get a chance to see her?
Yes, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt Ruby Williams, God rest her soul she’s gone on to be with the Lord now but she’s the only one who hasn’t but her children, grandchildren, all of them know. It’s a constant reminder that she’s still with us.
How did you feel when Tyler Perry presented you with Love Thy Neighbor?
I was just blown away. I was just saying he flew into Detroit we had been missing each other for years because I was always doing another show. This particular show I was doing there was Allen Payne a mutual friend and he went back and told Tyler the show was ending and he was just asking about the show and my name came up. He flew in the very last night of that play and that next Monday I believe the show ended Sunday so Tuesday I was in Tyler’s office and the rest is history. We’ve been rocking for years I’m just excited and appreciative that he saw that character and fell in love with the character right then that night he said; “This lady needs her own show.” I’m just grateful for him. Even though this is the end of Love Thy Neighbor it doesn’t stop there Tyler is a genius and he will continue to use that character in other things.
I saw in an interview where you left home at 16, how did you develop your faith at such a young age?
God had his hand on me. Definitely when I left home I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do that but my mom was a pastor it was a bit much and me knowing that I wanted to be an actress I knew she wasn’t going to allow me to do that so I basically took a leap of faith and just asked God to protect me. I went through a lot of things but I still know that God protected me. The angels were always covering me it was something I had to do and I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do that but I’d encourage you to get an education because now all of those things you need it. Everybody’s outcome is not going to be the same as mine but I was in a situation where I felt like I was tied up and not free to be who I wanted to be. I left home and my mother didn’t know if I was living or dead for six years but I had a praying mother and she kept the angels covering me. And God blessed me and I am who I am today because of him.
How did your theatre background prepare you for Love Thy Neighbor and your film work with Tyler Perry?
Nothing can really prepare you even though he was in the audience and I kept hearing this big laugh I was like ‘Who is that” and someone was like “That’s Tyler.” You get nervous then you know as soon as that show was over Tyler met me backstage and we hugged as if I knew him it was just a connection that we made even now I just have so much respect for him even when he’s tired he just goes. I promise you that I think there is three or four Tyler Perrys because everything is the same thing as day one. I’m just excited that God allowed us to cross paths.
Is there anything different you learned from having your own show?
Again watching Tyler the way he handles his people his cast, his crew the love the energy the support. Even offstage I watched this man do things for people if I don’t take away anything I learned to just be giving continue to bless people because when you bless someone else those blessings will come back to you. Even the personal conversations that he has how he’s able to take whatever it is that you’re going through and help you to see the good in every situation. This man is just awesome and God uses him to bless people to give people jobs he’s just an awesome guy. I love working with him.
Is it true that comedians are usually really serious people offstage?
I don’t know about most comedians but that’s who I am a lot of times. I wonder like okay God you make people laugh but then I think well who’s going to entertain me? I love to people watch and I may see something when I’m out and it just tickles me to no end.
I know the show is ending but you’re going to be in Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.
Yes, it comes out October 20th I just want to make sure that everybody knows that Love Thy Neighbor comes back Saturday on the 29th and then we have Boo! Madea’s Family Funeral I’m in that one as well. Again I’m just excited I’m thankful to Tyler Perry for what he has done for my career.
Love Thy Neighbor returns to OWN on Saturday, July 29th.