Love him or hate him, one thing that cannot be debated about director, actor, screen writer, and playwright Tyler Perry is that he’s without a doubt one of entertainment’s biggest success stories. Willing himself from a high school dropout to Hollywood darling, Perry’s story began 43 years ago as we recognize the movie and TV mogul on his birthday.
Born Emmitt Perry, Jr., he and two siblings lived with his father and mother, Willie Maxine, in New Orleans. Since Perry endured a tough childhood as a result of beatings from his father, Perry legally changed his name to Tyler in order to separate himself from his past.
Although he had the support of his mother’s love and the church they attended together, there were other demons in Perry’s life that plagued him. Around the release of the 2009 film “Precious,” Perry revealed a mother’s friend molested him at age 10 along with three other men before that incident.
Still, his earlier turmoil would serve as an inspiration after he dropped out of high school and obtained a GED. After watching an “Oprah” show while in his early 20s, a guest talked about how writing was a pathway for healing. Taking that advice, Perry began writing letters to himself, which formed the base material for the musical play “I Know I’ve Been Changed.”
Moving to Atlanta around 1990 and using the $12,000 he saved up, the play debuted in a local community theater. Only 22 at the time, the musical was panned critically and eventually tanked. Undaunted and certainly no stranger to adversity, Perry would rewrite the play several times until finally hitting it big in 1998 with showings at the House Of Blues, and later, Fox Theatre, which is where Perry gained much of his footing in the world of film. In 2005, Forbes reported that the director made $150 million in revenue during that time.
Perry would make a splash in Hollywood – where just a few Black directors exist — after receiving a $5.5 million budget to finance his first film “Diary Of A Mad Black Woman.” Central to the film was Perry’s debut of the tough-talking “Madea” character.
Watch a clip of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” here:
Cross-dressing as the butt-kicking grandmother, Perry has endured criticism from African-American peers, such as Spike Lee, and actors, such as Idris Elba, who blasted the role as “buffoonish.” Still, Oprah Winfrey has defended Perry — as well as other notable names — arguing that his movies fill a necessary void in an industry largely devoid of Black voices.
Even though his long-running TV show “House Of Payne” ended its run on TBS this summer, Perry is already working on his 13th film with “The Marriage Counselor,” featuring Kanye West‘s beau, Kim Kardashian, and handsome actor Lance Gross. He’s also set to star in his first lead role in a film, where he has no directorial or writing involvement in next month’s “Alex Cross.”
Watch the trailer below:
NewsOne wishes Tyler Perry a happy birthday and continued success.