Tyler Perry is one of the most prolific and successful writers, producers, directors, songwriters and actors today. In 2011 he was named entertainment’s highest paid man for earning $130 million between May 2010 and 2011.
Born in New Orleans Louisiana September 13, 1969 Perry was one of several children. At birth he was named Emmitt Perry, Jr. after his father who was a carpenter. As a child his father was abusive. His idea of child rearing was to “beat it” out of the child. Perry was very depressed at that time. In fact once he attempted suicide as a way to get away from his father’s beatings. When he was 16, in order to distance himself from his father, Emmitt Perry, Jr. had his first name legally changed to Tyler.
Tyler Perry did not graduate from high school, but did earn his GED.
Later Perry revealed he’d been molested at age 10 by the mother of a friend and prior to this he’d been molested by three men. He also learned his friend had been molested by his own father.
In contrast to his abusive father Perry’s mother Willie Maxine Perry was a religious woman who took her son to Church with her each week. For most of her life Mrs. Perry worked for the New Orleans Jewish Community Center as a preschool teacher. She passed away in December 2009 at age 64.
Watching the Oprah Winfrey Show one day when he was around 20 Perry heard someone talk about the healing effects of writing. This person stated it helps the writer to work out his problems. Inspired Perry started writing letters to himself as therapy. These letters became the basis for his musical, “I Know I’ve Been Changed”.
Perry moved to Atlanta and at age 22 used all his savings to put on “I Know I’ve Been Changed” at the community theatre. The show was a financial failure and did not receive good reviews. Over a period of time Perry reworked and fine tuned the show until eventually it was performed at the House of Blues and Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Tyler Perry has gone on to write, direct, produce and perform in many other films, TV shows and stage shows. He has a large following of loyal fans.
Counted among his supporters and friends are Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson and Will Smith. Tyler Perry once indicated he knows what his audience wants and studios do not know his audience. The theme running through many of his works reflect the teachings and social behavior of the African American Church.
In 2009 Perry learned that a swim club in Huntingdon Valley Pennsylvania had shunned a group of children from a Philadelphia day camp. He sponsored a trip for all 65 of these children to Disney World. On his website he wrote “I want them to know for every act of evil that a few people will throw at you, there are millions more who will do something kind for them”.
Tyler Perry purchased a 17 acre estate in Buckhead Atlanta in the Paces neighborhood in 2007. Recently in 2010 he purchased a 58 acre estate known as Dean Gardens in a suburb of Atlanta – Johns Creek.
If you’d like to learn more about how Tyler Perry rose to the top, I’d recommend checking out The Rise of Tyler Perry by Melvin Childs
We’re huge fans and without a doubt are looking forward to enjoying his next project!
If it were up to you, where would you like to see Tyler Perry appear next? Share your thoughts in the comments below.