Name: Emmitt Perry, Jr. (Tyler Perry)
Born: September 13, 1969
Occupation: Actor, director, playwright, screenwriter
If ever there was a story about a man destined for greatness, it’s the story of Tyler Perry. Born to Willie Maxine Perry and Emmitt Perry, Sr., Tyler is one of 4 children. Unfortunately, their home life was not calm, as his father thought the solution to most problem was to beat everyone. Perry at one point tried to commit suicide but later found refuge in the church. His name was legally named from Emimtt to Tyler at the age of 16, a move he made solely to disassociate from his father.
Tyler Perry never graduated from high school, instead earning his GED. He was inspired to become a writer by an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and found writing to be an incredible outlet for his own thoughts and problem. His writings led to his first stage production, I Know I’ve Been Changed, which was produced in Atlanta in 1992. The play tanked, eating all of the young writer’s personal savings. He rewrote the pay numerous times and it wasn’t until 1998 that the show’s performances at the House of Blues and then the Fox Theatre finally took off.
Statistically speaking, Perry’s stage career has been a hit. According to Forbes (2005), Tyler Perry has sold “more than $100 million in tickets, $20 million in videos of his shows and an estimated $20 million in merchandise,” and “the 300 live shows he produces each year are attended by an average of 35,000 people each week.” That’s success.
Of course, you’re probably more familiar with the movie adaptations of Perry’s writings. Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Daddy’s Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married, Meet the Browns, The Family that Preys, Madea Goes to Jail, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Why Did I Get Married Too? and a myriad of other movies have each grossed millions. Many, especially from the Madea story line, have been adapted back into stage productions as well.
While the majority of Perry’s films are produced by Lions Gate Entertainment, his corporation, Very Perry Films, retains all of the copyrights. You may have also noticed that Tyler Perry’s name appears before all of the movie titles.
Tyler Perry also has interest in the OWN Network, with Oprah Winfrey, where he hopes to help bring more scripted shows to the network.
While there have been countless critiques of Perry’s work, the truth remains that his messages are strong and sought after by his targeted audiences.
Tyler Perry and his girlfriend, Gelili Bekele, have been dating on and off for five years. They just recently announced that they are expecting their first child. Tyler Perry currently has a net worth of $400 million.
How much is $400 million?
It’s enough to earn him the title of “richest black actor in the world.” For real. And, honestly? I’m not too disappointed at what he’s been doing with it. Back in 2009, Perry sent 65 children to Walt Disney World after learning that their Philadelphia swim club had shunned them.
Perry has also supported Aid Still Required, Covenant House, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Keep A Child Alive, MaleSurvivor, and the NAACP. He also founded the Tyler Perry Foundation, an organization that provides grants to the Atlanta Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless program in order to help with the “restoration and stabilization for at-risk and homeless individuals and families so they can thrive and become self-sufficient.” The foundation also regularly donates to the Atlanta Food Bank and to Creative Steps in Philadelphia.