Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry keeps proving that critics should never count him out.
“Tyler always bets on Tyler,” Michael Paseornek, former president of Lions Gate Films said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.
Just eight years ago, Perry told audience members at the BET Awards, “While you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own.”
Perry, who has a net worth of $1 billion, got his start in the entertainment industry by writing, directing, and producing plays. His first, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” failed several times to gain audience approval but Perry kept pushing forward, developing the character Madea, who would appear in his touring plays and, later, feature films.
An Eye Towards Future Wealth
And his greatest ambition — to own BET — is a dream that he openly discusses, even after the opportunity vanished when Paramount decided not to sell a majority stake in BET earlier this year. Perry produces several original programs for BET, including “Sistas” and “Assisted Living.”
Still, it was a dream Perry had hoped would come true.
“What I can tell you is, it’s worth a lot more with me than it is without me,” Perry said in a recent interview with Bloomberg. “With me writing hundreds of episodes for the channel, also delivering them at a number that is so cost-effective that it gives a great return. All of that is more and more reason for it to be mine.”
For now, he’s focused on turning Atlanta into the new Hollywood.
Atlanta, Or Bust
During his first trip to Atlanta in 1991, Perry, initially was coming to enjoy the annual “Freaknik” spring break party. “I was just coming to get drunk,” Perry said.
But once in the city, he was in awe of its civil rights heritage, the city’s vibrancy, and its ability to attract educated Black entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers, doctors, politicians and entertainers.
“I drove to some of the neighborhoods, and I saw where they lived and how they lived,” he recalled. “And I said to myself, ‘I’m moving here. This is home.’ I drove back to New Orleans, got my stuff and moved to Atlanta that weekend.”
Now, he’s one of the driving forces behind the city’s entertainment scene.
He said in a 2019 interview with Gayle King that he never feels welcomed in Hollywood.
“I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure. And that’s fine. I get it,” Perry said. “My audience and the stories that I tell are African-American stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know, that I grew up [with], and we speak a language. Hollywood doesn’t necessarily speak the language. A lot of critics don’t speak that language. So, to them it’s like, ‘What is this?’”
So Perry has his focus on Atlanta. Today, Perry is still writing, directing, and producing, but he’s been actively working on expanding his commercial reach. Perry owns Tyler Perry Studios, one of the largest production facilities in the United States. In southwest Atlanta, Perry purchased the 330-acre studio lot for $30 million in 2015. The space includes a motion picture studio, 12 sound stages, 40 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 200 acres of green spaces as well as a series of sets including a chapel, prison yard, bank, baseball fields, hospital, coffee shop, farmhouse, diner and cabin.
There’s also a replica of the White House which is featured prominently in the series “The Oval.” Plans to expand Tyler Perry Studios are already underway, as Perry purchased an additional 37 acres of land adjacent to his studios for $8.4 million in December.
A Passion For Storytelling
Storytelling is at the heart of all that Perry does.
In 2022, Perry signed a multifilm deal with Amazon Prime to write, direct and produce four feature-length films for the streaming service.
And his film, “Six Triple Eight,” a period film based on an all-Black and female World War II battalion is set to be released on Netflix. The star-studded cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington, and Susan Sarandon. This will be Perry’s fourth film to be released on Netflix. Others, such as “A Jazzman’s Blues” and “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming,” received positive reviews.
“I’m looking forward to continuing telling unique stories and bringing my next projects to the global audiences that they reach,” Perry said in a recent press statement.