Tyler Perry is an American actor, writer, producer, comedian and director. In 2011, Forbes listed him as the highest paid man in entertainment, earning $130 million USD between May 2010 and May 2011. He was born as Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969.
Perry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, as Emmitt Perry Jr., the son of Willie Maxine Perry (née Campbell) and Emmitt Perry Sr., a carpenter. He has three siblings. Perry once said his father’s answer to everything was to “beat it out of you”. As a child, Perry once went so far as to attempt suicide in an effort to escape his father’s beatings. In contrast to his father, his mother took him to church each week, where he sensed a certain refuge and contentment. At age 16, he had his first name legally changed from Emmitt to Tyler in an effort to distance himself from his father.
Many years later, after seeing the film Precious, Perry was moved to reveal for the first time that he had been molested by a friend’s mother at age 10; he was also molested by three men prior to this, and later learned his own father had molested his friend. A DNA test taken by Perry indicated that Emmitt Sr. was not Perry’s biological father.
While Perry did not complete high school, he earned a GED. In his early 20s, watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, he heard someone describe the sometimes therapeutic effect the act of writing can have, enabling the author to work out his or her own problems. This comment inspired him to apply himself to a career in writing. He soon started writing a series of letters to himself, which became the basis for the musical I Know I’ve Been Changed.
Perry describes himself as a Christian. He has become good friends with Janet Jackson, Will Smith, and Oprah Winfrey. Many of the themes in his work reflect theology and social behavior indicative of the predominantly black church culture, such as the many scenes in both his stage and screen work that feature church settings and worship styles commonly found in predominantly African American churches, including showcases of gospel music and artists.
In 2007, Perry bought a 17-acre estate in the Paces neighborhood of Buckhead, Atlanta. In May 2016, he sold the house for $17.5 million, also closing the biggest deal ever for a private home in the Georgia capital. In 2013, his company, ETPC LLC, purchased around 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) in the New Manchester, Georgia area of Douglas County, Georgia.
On July 20, 2009, Perry sponsored 65 children from a Philadelphia day camp to visit Walt Disney World, after reading that a suburban swim club, the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, had shunned them. He wrote on his website, “I want them to know that for every act of evil that a few people will throw at you, there are millions more who will do something kind for them.”
On December 8, 2009, Perry’s mother, Willie Maxine Perry, died at age 64, following an illness. He lives and works in Southwest Atlanta where he operates the Tyler Perry film and TV studios. In August 2010, it was reported that he had purchased Dean Gardens, a 58-acre estate in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek. He tore down the existing 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) mansion and built a new, environmentally-friendly home on the property.
On November 30, 2014, Perry’s partner Gelila Bekele gave birth to their only son Aman Tyler Perry.
Perry owns vacation properties in both Wyoming and the Bahamas.
Perry created and performs the Madea character, a tough elderly black woman. Perry’s films vary in style from orthodox filmmaking techniques to filmed productions of live stage plays. Many of Perry’s stage-play films have been subsequently adapted as films.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=”Tyler Perry”]My biggest success is getting over the things that have tried to destroy and take me out of this life. Those are my biggest successes. It has nothing to do with work.[/penci_blockquote]
Perry wrote and produced many stage plays during the 1990s and early 2000s. Perry has developed several television series, most notably Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, which ran for eight seasons on TBS from June 21, 2006, to August 10, 2012. On October 2, 2012, Perry struck an exclusive multi-year partnership with Oprah Winfrey and her Oprah Winfrey Network. The partnership was largely for the sake of bringing scripted television to the OWN, based on Perry’s previous success in this area. Perry has created multiple scripted series for the network, The Haves and the Have Nots being its most successful. The Haves and the Have Nots has given OWN its highest ratings to date as of 2014, with the series also referred to as “one of OWN’s biggest success stories with its weekly dose of soapy fun, filled with the typical betrayals, affairs, and manipulations.”
[penci_blockquote style=”style-1″ align=”none” author=”Tyler Perry”]I want to own a network. I want to own a network where you can turn it on with your family all day long and get positive reinforcement.[/penci_blockquote]
Perry has additionally acted in films not directed or produced by himself, including as Admiral Barnett in Star Trek (2009), the titular character in Alex Cross (2012), Tanner Bolt in Gone Girl (2014), Baxter Stockman in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) and Colin Powell in Vice (2018).
Not one to rest on his successes, in 2015 Tyler Perry Studios announced plans to expand operations in Atlanta with the acquisition of Fort McPherson. The studio, which was already home to the production of over 15 films and almost 800 episodes of Tyler’s five television series, has now made a home on over 330 acres. With that, Tyler Perry Studios welcomes more than 400 job opportunities to the Atlanta community across Tyler’s productions, as well as major feature films and television shows.