Born in New Orleans on September 13, 1969, Emmitt Perry, Jr. would change his name 16 years later to become Tyler Perry. Perry changed his name to distance himself from his father, Emmitt Sr., who Perry says was abusive towards him and his friends.
Perry also lived with his mother, Willie Maxine, a twin brother, and 2 sisters. He became active in his church at a young age, as a way to escape his father. His early writings were also a form of therapy that allowed him to deal with his father's behavior.
Issues with his father came to a head when Tyler was 16 and attempted suicide. It was then that he dropped out of high school and left his father's home. Perry worked odd jobs like selling cars and bill collecting to support himself, while earning his G.E.D.
Continuing to write during this time, TP wrote his first play, I Know I've Been Changed, based on his turbulent childhood. He lived in his car while saving the $12,000 it took for him to stage the play. Rather than pay concession employees each night, Tyler sold the refreshments himself.
This was in keeping with his lifelong motto of, "the man who owns the house always makes more than the man who builds the house". This philosophy is what would help him attain his current net worth of $1 billion. But how did it happen?
Tyler Perry Net Worth
After the somewhat successful run of his first play, Perry used the money to put his second play, (the now iconic), Diary Of A Mad Black Woman on the stage. While touring the country, Oprah Winfrey would see the play and Perry's life would change forever.
Oprah invited Tyler to her show and sang his praises. It seemed everyone now wanted to see a Perry production. Working off of Oprah's advice and advertising, and his incomparable storytelling, Tyler Perry made $100 million in ticket sales, $30 million from video-taped performances, and $20 million from merchandising.
This was all before he filmed a single movie or television show. With his stage success in full effect, (presently he has put on 24 plays), he was approached by Lionsgate studios. They wanted to make Diary Of A Mad Black Woman into a film. Perry struck a brilliant deal. He funded half the cost of the $5.5 million himself.
He would also, as per the contract, collect half the profits. Lionsgate expected the movie to make no more than $20 million. At the end of the day, however, it made over $50 million at the box office and $150 million from video, streaming and on-demand viewings.
Part of the allure of the film was the character of Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a gun-toting, tough-talking grandma. Tyler himself plays Madea and has turned this foul-mouthed matriarch into one of the most recognized and beloved characters in film history. The Madea character has appeared in 14 of Perry's movies. Those films alone have grossed over $670 million at the box office alone.
As of 2022, Tyler Perry has written, produced and directed 22 films, including:
- Diary Of A Mad Black Woman
- Why Did I Get Married?
- Why Did I Get Married, Too?
- A Madea Christmas
- Madea Goes To Jail
- Single Moms Club
- Meet The Browns
- I Can Do Bad All By Myself
- For Colored Girls
- Witness Protection
- Boo: A Madea Halloween
- The Family That Preys
- Daddy's Little Girls
As most people know, Tyler Perry is not like most directors and producers in Hollywood. He is able to flow between the stage, movie screen, and television. In 2006, he created a show that would introduce his genius to a whole new audience, as well as make him even richer.
The House of Payne, is a long-running family sitcom about the daily trials and tribulations of a middle-class extended family. Perry built a soundstage in Atlanta, bought all of the equipment (cameras, lights, props, etc). He wrote, directed, and produced all the early episodes on his own.
As a result, when the CW network bought the show for $200 million, Perry pocketed $138 million of it. He has stated that doing everything himself and owning everything saves him a ton of money in the long run. He also owns every play, film, and television show he's ever made.
Working off the success of The House of Payne, Perry went on to strike deals with OWN (Oprah's network) and BET to produce more shows, which include:
- The Oval
- For Better Or Worse
- If Loving You Is Wrong
- Assisted Living
- Meet The Browns
- The Have And The Have Nots
- Love Thy Neighbor
Perry also helped to launch the streaming service, BET+, in which he is a major stake holder.
Let's not forget that Tyler occasionally likes to take a little "vacation", so he will simply take roles as an actor where he doesn't need to write, direct, and produce as well. Some of his acting roles have included:
- Alex Cross
- Gone Girl
- Dont Look Up
- Star Trek
- Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles
- Paw Patrol
Perry has also penned a few books. His first was "Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earring: Wisdom From Madea. The second offering was the more serious, "Higher Is Waiting", which became a New York Times best seller.
Tyler Perry Studios
As started, Tyler Perry has long believed in owning everything he uses. Though it may cost a lot upfront, the money that is saved over time is astounding. In 2015, he put his literal money where his mouth was and purchased the former Fort McPherson Army Base in Atlanta, Georgia for $30 million.
He then dropped more than $250 million to turn the 330 acres into a new state of the art home of Tyler Perry Productions. The site came with 40 historic buildings (that are often featured in his shows), and 220 acres of green space.
Perry built 12 soundstages, naming them after his personal heroes, like, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Cicely Tyson, and Will Smith. It is the largest movie studio in the United States.
The mogul created several permanent sets, including:
- a 16,000 square foot mansion
- a bank
- a hotel lobby replica
- a courthouse
- a motel
- a chapel
- a full scale model of the White House (for The Oval drama)
- baseball fields
- a trailer park
- a prison yard
- a coffee shop
- lakeside cabins
- a farmhouse
- a diner
- a cul de sac with 12 real houses
- an airplane
- a historic downtown district
- tennis courts
- The Dream Building (that houses the studio's offices)
Perry used the studio compound to his advantage during the global pandemic of 2020. While most other productions had to shut down, Perry was able to keep the cameras rolling.
He had all the actors tested and quarantined while staying within the studio compound. He was able to do this because many of the buildings were actual homes that belonged to army officers when it was a military fort. All homes are furnished and fully functioning.
He also had all supplies delivered and properly sanitized. Anything the cast and crew needed was brought in, as everyone agreed to stay put while filming.
Perry rents out the studio to other creators, thus adding to his $1 billion fortune.
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Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker