Tyler Perry once dreamed of producing sold-out plays, but for the first four years of his venture he was not successful. His plays flopped. He lost money and, in 1996, he was homeless and slept in his car for a few months.
It’s been almost 30 years since the billionaire film executive slept in his car, but Perry uses that moment in his life to provide inspiration to others. He even has a blue Geo Metro, much like his old car, parked in front of the main building of his Tyler Perry Studios lot in Atlanta.
“If looking back at how far you’ve come doesn’t make you thankful, I don’t know what will,” Perry said in a recent Instagram post showing photos of that Geo Metro that he says he takes “out for a spin” from time to time. “There’s no way to be ungrateful when you appreciate every blessing you receive. And if you’re still in the struggle please fight on…. It’s so sweet on the other side of pain.”
Perry’s Rise To Fame and Fortune
Today, Perry’s achievements are many. As one of the largest film studios in the United States, Tyler Perry Studios serves as sets and soundstages for film and television programs. Perry has produced and directed more than 30 movies, 20 theater productions and eight television shows. His most popular character is Madea, an elderly black woman who shares wisdom with sass, which is ingrained in popular culture.
Yet Perry’s road to fame was not without stumbling blocks. When Perry was in his 20s, he watched an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which focused on writing as a mode of therapy, and he became motivated to write. Soon afterward, he began writing a collection of letters to himself, which led him to produce his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” in 1992. The play was performed in community theater and received a negative reception. Although Perry had lost his savings on the play’s production, he did not give up. After several revisions, the play was restaged at Atlanta’s House of Blues and Fox Theatre in 1998, receiving a more positive reception. Perry used this initial success to launch his career as a playwright and producer on the urban theater circuit.
Perry’s first film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” debuted in 2005. The following year, he released a film adaptation of “Madea’s Family Reunion.” Other films, such as “Why Did I Get Married,” and “Daddy’s Little Girls,” followed.
Perry continued to expand his empire into television sitcoms. His first, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” premiere on TBS in 2006, and in 2011, “Meet The Browns” also premiered on the network. Partnerships with OWN and Viacom/CBS have led Perry to produce a variety of drama and comedy series for television.