Tyler Perry, renowned filmmaker, is best known for his Madea franchise and providing opportunities for Black entertainers on and off television. Na’im Lynn is one of those entertainers who was discovered by Perry while on tour with Kevin Hart and given the opportunity to showcase his talents on screen. “You never know what celebrities are going to be in attendance and become a fan of yours when you’re on tour with Kevin,” says Lynn. “Every once in awhile you get somebody that shows up that can make a difference. For me, that was Tyler Perry.”
The 43-year-old comedian, actor, writer, and on-air personality relocated to Los Angeles in 2008 in the aim of expanding his comic career through acting and television. Lynn asserts that acting and comedy are inextricably linked. “When you book a role as an actor, you increase your fan base, which helps you sell tickets as a standup comedian.”
According to the Temple University kinesiology major turned entertainer, he manifested the lead role of Jeremy on Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living. Crystal Hayslett, the breakout star of Sistas, was a costume designer for Tyler Perry Studios at the time. She shared with Lynn how much Perry admired his tour performance. Hayslett was teased by Lynn about putting a word in with Perry about a possible collaboration. That reality came true a few months after that conversation when he received a call from Tyler Perry personally, inviting him to audition for the role of Jeremy.
“It’s a crazy story, I woke up one morning and had several direct messages on Instagram from two people who worked for TBS. They both wanted my phone number in order for casting to contact me. My phone rang about fifteen minutes later; I assumed it was someone from casting, but it was Tyler Perry. I was completely taken aback.” Lynn recounted.
The first phone contact was made in May of 2020. Lynn didn’t hear from Perry again until September. “I wasn’t sure if he requested me or if my team got me an audition,” Lynn continues. “When I went in for the audition, I was completely prepared. For me, reading was a lot of fun.” Lynn’s concerns were confirmed by casting director Kim Coleman when she told him at the end of his audition, “He adores you and wanted to make sure we had you for the show.”
Lynn’s passion for making people laugh extends beyond Tyler Perry Studios, with roots in comedy dating back to 2002. He filmed his second comedy special with the Plastic Cup Boyz: Laughing My Mask Off! in May 2021, which will make its Netflix debut on July 27th. The comedy special took place in Atlanta and included a half-hour stand-up set with comedy crew members Will “Spank” Horton and Joey Wells. The live filming which comes six years after their first highly viewed show back in 2014, was executive produced by longtime friend Kevin Hart and Royale Watkins.
Making a name for himself on stage has propelled the New Jersey native to the airwaves with Kevin Hart and the Plastic Cup Boyz — Joey Wells, Will “Spank” Horton, Harry Ratchford and Dwayne Brown — on their Sirius XM show Straight From The Hart. The show is where today’s most pressing issues collide with humor. “We forget that we’re recording,” Lynn states. “It’s just us guys having an open and honest chat. We’ve all known one another for a long time, we don’t hold anything back. It’s merciless yet hilarious, but our audience loves it because it’s authentically us.”
Lynn, who wasn’t sold on radio before retiring, now wants to continue the journey with his own show after getting a taste of being an on-air personality. He says he’d be willing to do a live show once a week where listeners could call in for advice, similar to his popular Na’ims Knowledge segment on the show, in which he gives impartial advice to people who write in about their lives.
Lynn opens up about his depression difficulties despite having so much on his plate. As a man who realizes that stress and melancholy often go hand in hand, he adds, “Many people endure discomfort as a result of their financial situation.” Lynn claims that after he was financially secure, all of his tension disappeared, and depression was replaced by a yearning for more. “Rather than appreciating what we have, we frequently seek a quick fix and chase satisfaction through worldly possessions.”
Happiness, he feels, is a decision. “You have to choose to be happy,” he expresses. He credits his joy to Naledi, his 5-year-old daughter, saying that he now has someone who counts on him at all times.
Lynn conveys his belief that our decisions in life have an impact on our mental health. “If you’re battling with depression, take it one day at a time and avoid using negative phrases or speaking negatively about yourself,” Lynn advises. “It comes down to the laws of attraction; what we say becomes our reality. Negative thinking just sets you up for failure.”
Positive Black Fathers On Television Shows
On Assisted Living, Lynn portrays a father who is laid off abruptly and travels to Georgia with his family in hopes of collecting his inheritance from his grandfather, who he later discovers has spent the entire endowment on a run-down home for the elderly.
In real life, the caring and devoted husband claims that he and his character Jeremy share the love of being a father and a family man. For Lynn, “Portraying a positive black figure on television is vitally essential. My role on the show allows me to demonstrate a bit of who I am as a father and how dedicated I am to making things work in my family’s favor.”
Bullying Prevention Techniques
Not only is he a role model onscreen, but he and his daughter collaborate every Tuesday on Instagram live for a comedic series called Toasty Tuesdays. She’s following in her father’s footsteps with the funny gene.
The series revolves around him teaching his daughter the skill of “roasting,” which instills confidence in her and encourages her not to take things personally. She goes live with viewers, instructing them to make a joke first, and then she responds with a joke of her own. “I want her to be able to laugh at herself,” Lynn shares. “I don’t want her to take offense when people say things to her or about her. When you don’t get upset, it takes away their power.” He’s showing her how to be comfortable in her own skin while still having fun.
Lynn expresses an interest in playing the role of a bad guy on screen, as he plans to further his acting career. The actor wishes to venture beyond his own persona. With previous acting roles on shows like Survivor’s Remorse, where he guest-starred as the role Dirty Paul a muscle, he’d like to be a part of shows like Power Book, and he’s even up for an entire Dirty Paul series.
One of Lynn’s objectives is to set up meetings for a project he pitched to HBO but never got off the ground. “I spent years constructing it, it’s like my baby,” he discloses. “I still feel it has the potential to be something monumental, something that the people will warmly embrace.”
“The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.”