Last year might’ve been Tyler Perry’s milestone birthday (he turned 50 in 2019), but I have a feeling 51 is going to be even better to him. As you may have heard, earlier this month, Forbes magazine estimated that Perry’s net worth has officially made him a member of the billionaire’s club. In addition to buying a former military base in Atlanta and converting it into one of the nation’s largest film studios (Black Panther, Bad Boys for Life and The Walking Dead have shot there), he recently finished work on a new mansion (close to the studio property), complete with an organic farm and a runway. While Perry was in Atlanta, he let Prince Harry and Meghan Markle camp out in his LA mansion when they first moved to the US.
When you consider that Perry grew up poor in an abusive household and then later had stints as a car salesman and a bill collector and lived out of his car for months while trying to make ends meet when producing his first play, it really does seem like he’s living the ultimate American Dream.
Perry rose to mainstream fame thanks to his Madea movies, but his loyal following grew while he performed traveling plays (some with the Madea character) for years prior around the South. By the time he pitched his projects in Hollywood, he knew he already had a built-in fan base… but LA executives weren’t so confident, so Perry was able to strike savvy deals in which he put up his own funds for certain production expenses, allowed the studios to take marketing costs out of his cut of the proceeds (he knew those costs would be minimal because of his loyal fanbase) and in return he would not only get a huge percentage of profits, but also eventually completely own the rights to all of his content. This is not how Hollywood deals are usually structured, and it’s the key to Perry’s fortune. He had confidence in himself and his fans, and he proved everyone in Hollywood wrong.
In addition to cranking out 12 Madea films (including one animated installment), Perry has also tried his hand at dramatic acting in films like Gone Girl, Star Trek, Alex Cross and Vice, on top of writing, directing and producing several other movies and TV series. In fact, thanks to him owning his own 330-acre film studio, he’s been able house 360 people on site in order to recently complete production on four BET/BET+ drama series — Sistas, The Oval, Ruthless and Bruh — though there were a few shutdowns over the course of filming due to positive COVID-19 results among the cast and crew. (Perry employed a “quarantine bubble” strategy and had daily tests for everyone involved in the shows.) This man is a machine!
Somehow, Perry also makes time to give back. He started the The Perry Foundation in 2006, and it currently supports more than 30 nonprofit organizations and charities focused on several issues close to Perry’s heart.
So our wish for Tyler Perry on his birthday this year is that he can finally take a short break and revel in all that he has achieved, as it is truly amazing.