Shut out of entertainment’s mainstream, Tyler Perry, Hollywood’s newest billionaire wrote, produced and starred 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 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 ham, 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.
Read the full profile on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2020/09/01/from-poor-as-hell-to-billionaire-how-tyler-perry-changed-show-business-forever/#3dce2d1234b5
Subscribe to FORBES: https://www.youtube.com/user/Forbes?sub_confirmation=1
Forbes newsletters: https://newsletters.editorial.forbes.com
Forbes on Facebook: http://fb.com/forbes
Forbes Video on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/forbes
Forbes Video on Instagram: http://instagram.com/forbes
More From Forbes: http://forbes.com
Forbes covers the intersection of entrepreneurship, wealth, technology, business and lifestyle with a focus on people and success.
Download issues of Forbes Africa
- Single Digital Issue: James Mwangi Cover - Forbes Africa Aug/Sep2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa June/July 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa April 2020 - 30 Under 30 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa March 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa February 2020 R50.00