With supporters naming him the black Walt Disney, the recently named Forbes Billionaire recently spoke with reporters on how, and why he chose to make the impact he has on the show business industry!
The influential, and multiple time highest-paid man in entertainment, the American actor, writer, producer, and director Perry who created and performed the Madea character, has recently become the industry's newest member to the Billion Dollar club. The mogul, who hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, has not had the easy way up in an industry that is frequently known to oppress talents of his complexion and background.
He recently spoke with Forbes on how he was Shut out of entertainment’s mainstream but continued to write, produce and star in his own American success story. Mostly dismissed by the Hollywood establishment and even some other Black luminaries (Spike Lee once derided Perry’s crass slapstick approach as “coonery buffoonery” before later relenting), Perry has succeeded for two reasons: He has honed a product that too many others viewed as destined for the discount bin. And he made sure to control it all.
The recently turned 51-year-old entertainer owns the entirety of his creative output, including more than 1,200 episodes of television, 22 feature films and at least two dozen stage plays, as well as a 330-acre studio lot at the edge of Atlanta’s southern limits. He used that control to leverage a deal with ViacomCBS that pays him $150 million a year for new content and gives him an equity stake in BET+, the streaming service it debuted last September.
Forbes estimates Perry has earned more than $1.4 billion in pretax income since 2005, which he used to buy homes in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as two planes. Quite a lifestyle for a once-homeless playwright raised in poverty in New Orleans. Today, Forbes estimates his net worth at $1 billion, with a clear path to future membership in The Forbes 400.
A natural born talent, Perry grew up making his mother laugh with impersonations. He was dealing with more than poverty: He describes an upbringing by an abusive man who he later learned was not his father. He was inspired to write out the stress he was feeling after watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, and spent his 20s touring small theaters around the country performing the plays he wrote, produced and starred in—a crash course in what was to come.
Perry has been operating out of Atlanta since he released Diary in 2005; in the ensuing 15 years he has produced at least one feature film every year, as well as 13 more television series, nearly all of it filmed in and around the city.In the latest Portraits episode, Forbes follows Tyler Perry around his Atlanta-based lot to get a sense of what it takes to build, own and control production on a billion-dollar scale.
Although being pushed out of the industry in which he ended up making his mark, he told Cinema Blend "You got to understand, I had no mentors. My father doesn’t know anything about business, and my uncles and mother, they know nothing about this. I didn’t go to business school. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned in progress."
"There was about a 10-year period where everything went on a deep lull and there was nothing being made for people of color... The ignorance I had about Hollywood was so wonderful, looking back on it."
Check out the full interview with Forbes here: