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Tyler Perry
Born Emmitt Perry, Jr.
September 13, 1969 (1969-09-13) (age 40)
New Orleans, Louisiana,
United States
Occupation Actor, author, screenwriter, film director, theatre director, television director, playwright, film producer, television producer
Years active 1999–present
Official website

Tyler Perry (born September 13, 1969) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and author.[1] As of July 2009, Tyler Perry's films have earned him nearly $400 million worldwide.[2] In 2008, Perry earned around $75 million, placing him just outside the top five highest-paid men in Hollywood.[3]



Tyler got $5.5 million, his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, grossed $50.6 million, while scoring a 16 percent approval rating at the film review web site, Rotten Tomatoes.[4] On its opening weekend, February 24, 2006, Perry's film version of Madea's Family Reunion opened at number one at the box office with $30.3 million. The film eventually grossed $65 million; as with Diary, almost all of the Madea's earnings originated in the United States. Perry and the co-stars promoted the film on the Oprah Winfrey show.[5]

Perry's next LionsGate project, Daddy's Little Girls, starred Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba and was released in the U.S. on February 14, 2007. It grossed over $31 million.[6] Perry wrote, directed, produced and starred in his next movie, Why Did I Get Married?, released on October 12, 2007. It opened number one, grossing $21.4 million at the box office that weekend. It is loosely based on his play of the same name. Filming began March 5, 2007, in Whistler, British Columbia, Vancouver, then Atlanta, where Perry opened his own studio. Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, Jill Scott and Tasha Smith appeared in the film. Perry's 2008 film, Meet the Browns, released on March 21, opened at #2 with a $20,082,809 weekend gross.[7] The Family That Preys opened on September 12, 2008, and grossed over $37.1 million.

Madea Goes to Jail opened #1 on February 20, 2009, grossing $41 million and becoming his largest opening to date. This was Perry's seventh film with Lionsgate Entertainment. At the request of director J. J. Abrams,[8] Perry had a cameo appearance in the movie Star Trek, which opened on May 8, 2009. This was his first movie appearance outside of his own projects.

Perry next wrote, directed, and starred in I Can Do Bad All By Myself, a film structured around his Madea character.[9] Perry also teamed with Oprah Winfrey to present Precious, a movie based on the novel Push by Sapphire.[10]

Perry movies are co-produced and distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment while he retains full copyright ownership under his corporate name, Very Perry Films, and places his name in front of all titles.[11]


Perry produces a television show entitled Tyler Perry's House of Payne, which follows an African-American household of three generations. The show demonstrates the family members' struggles with faith and love, as well as living with different generations. The show ran briefly in the spring of 2006 as a 10-show pilot. After a successful pilot run, Perry signed a $200 million, 100-episode deal with TBS. On June 6, 2007, the first two episodes of Tyler Perry's House of Payne ran on TBS. After receiving high ratings, House of Payne entered broadcast syndication. Reruns were played through December 2007 before the second season began. The third season began on March 5, 2008 and the fourth season on June 4, 2008. House of Payne now airs on The CW Plus and has aired 100 episodes.

The Writers Guild of America, West has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that Perry's production company, House of Payne, unlawfully fired four writers in October 2008 in retaliation for their trying to get a union contract.[12]

Perry wrote, directed and produced the sitcom Meet The Browns, premiered on TBS on January 7, 2009.

Perry has said he may produce another series entitled Floyd's Family.

In early 2009, Perry threatened legal action against Mo' Money Taxes, a tax preparation company based in Memphis, for running a TV spot that he felt offensively parodied his work, in particular Madea Goes to Jail. The ad features a large Caucasian male (John Cowan) in drag, named "Ma'Madea". The offending ad was dropped from circulation.[citation needed]


Tyler Perry's first novel, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life, appeared on April 11, 2006. The book sold more than 25,000 copies.[13] The hardcover reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and stayed on the list for 12 weeks. It was voted the "Book of the Year" and "Best Humor Book" at the 2006 Quill Awards.

Stylistic trademarks

Perry always uses possessory credit in his works' titles (e.g., Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?). Several recurring narrative themes surface in Perry's work and they feature a predominantly African-American cast.

The recurring character of Mabel "Madea" Simmons appears in much of Perry's work. Perry portrays Madea by cross-dressing[14] in his plays and films. Perry has said he based Madea on an aunt who lives in Georgia, as well as on his mother. Madea dispenses wisdom in a "no-nonsense manner", and she is usually involved in physical comedy and/or a sight gag. The nickname "Madea" comes from a Southern African-American contraction of the words "mother dear", which is commonly used as a term of affection. It is also used as a reference to a great-grandmother.

Perry often refers to Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple, which he notes as one of his favorite movies. Perry's plays refer to 1970s R&B and soul music, and the differences between that and the current state of rap/hip-hop music and other music popular among the black community.

Other references include singers Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, R. Kelly, Ike & Tina Turner, the movie Forrest Gump, the television sitcom Good Times, rapper Missy Elliott, and the singer Tweet.

Personal life

He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana as Emmitt Perry, Jr., named after his father, a construction worker. In addition to young Emmit, his family consisted of three siblings, his mother Willie Maxine Perry, and his violently abusive father. His childhood was far from ideal. Perry once said of Emmitt Sr., "his only answer to everything was to beat it out of you." As a child, Perry once even went so far as to attempt suicide in an effort to escape his father's beatings. In contrast to his father, his mother took him to church each week where he sensed a certain refuge and contentment.[15] At age 16, he had his first name legally changed from Emmitt to Tyler in an effort to distance himself from his father.[16] After seeing the film Precious, he was moved to relate accounts of being molested by a friend's mother and by another friend's father at age 10, and finding out that his own father was molesting a friend.[17]

While Perry never completed high school, he did earn his GED. In his early 20's, watching an Oprah Winfrey talk show, he heard someone describe the sometimes therapeutic effect that the act of writing can have, enabling the author to work out his or her own problems. This comment inspired him to apply himself to a career in writing. He soon started writing a series of letters to himself, which became the basis for the musical, ‘I Know I've Been Changed’.

Around 1990 he moved to Atlanta, which is where this musical was first performed two years later, when Perry was 22 years old. The musical initially received a ‘less than a stellar’ reception. It included Christian themes of forgiveness, self dignity and self worth, while addressing issues such as child abuse and dysfunctional families. However, Perry’s initial lack of success as a playwright would not deter him, and over the next 6 years he retooled and rewrote the musical numerous times, and paid to have it performed again and again, only to continue to receive lackluster reviews. During this initial 6 years of difficulty, Tyler’s determination to succeed as a playwright sustained him through periods of poverty, hunger, and even homelessness. Also during this period of financial difficulties, Tyler became active in a local Christian church. Finally in 1998, at age 28, after his mother had begun to voice her concerns about the direction of his life, Perry decided he would retool the script just one more time. Much to his surprise and delight, this final attempt at success soon began playing to sellout audiences. Appropriately enough, these first successful hit performances took place in a former Atlanta church that had been turned into a theater.[16]

Since first breaking the success-barrier in 1998, Perry has gone on to create his most popular character, Madea. A wise, yet enigmatic and sometimes not entirely law abiding black matron which Perry describes as being drawn from aspects of both his mother and his aunt. This black grandmother who is known by her children for her infamous bag of leather belts, which she does not use sparingly on her children so as not to spoil them, first appeared in his 2000 play, ‘I Can Do Bad All by Myself’. Perry wearing drag, convincingly plays the part of this eccentric character himself. He also sometimes simultaneously plays other characters who are reminiscent of his father, such as “Uncle Joe”. He sometimes uses the alternate multiple character roles he plays in his movies to create a source of comic relief. Another comical aspect is provided by Perry's 6'- 5" stature, which is in no way diminished by his wearing a wig.

In 2005 Perry first began to make national celebrity status with the release of his acclaimed movie, ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman’. In 2009 Perry was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 6th highest paid man in Hollywood.[18] Perry is known to be a devout Christian.[19] Perry has become good friends with Oprah Winfrey, rapper/actor Will Smith and Bishop T.D. Jakes.[20]

On July 20, 2009, Perry sponsored 65 children from a Philadelphia day camp to go to Walt Disney World after reading that a suburban swim club (Valley Swim Club, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania) had shunned them.[21] Perry wrote on his website, "I want them to know that for every act of evil that a few people will throw at you, there are millions more who will do something kind for them."[22]

On December 8, 2009, Tyler's mother, Willie Maxine Perry, died at the age of 64, following an illness.[23] As of 2010, Perry remains unmarried.[24] He lives and works in Southwest Atlanta where he operates the Tyler Perry movie and TV studios.[25]


Film roles

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe Simmons, and Brian Simmons
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Brian, Joe
2007 Daddy's Little Girls Yes Yes Yes
Why Did I Get Married? Yes Yes Yes Yes Terry
2008 The Family That Preys Yes Yes Yes Yes Ben
Meet the Browns Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe
2009 Madea Goes to Jail Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
Star Trek Yes Admiral Barnett
I Can Do Bad All by Myself Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe
Why Did I Get Married Too? Yes Yes Yes Yes Terry

Television work

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
2006 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2009 Meet the Browns Yes Yes Yes No

Awards and nominations

  • BET Comedy Awards
    • 2005, Outstanding Actor in a Theatrical Film: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Winner
    • 2005, Outstanding Writing for Theatrical Film: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Winner
  • Black Movie Awards
    • 2006, Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
    • 2006, Outstanding Motion Picture: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
    • 2005, Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Winner
    • 2005, Outstanding Motion Picture: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Nominated

Black Reel Awards

    • 2008, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted: (Meet the Browns)- Nominated
    • 2008, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted: (The Family That Preys)- Nominated
    • 2007, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
    • 2005, Best Breakthrough Performance: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Nominated
    • 2005, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Nominated
  • Image Awards
    • 2009, Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie: (The Family That Preys)- Nominated
    • 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: (Why Did I Get Married?)- Nominated
    • 2007, Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
    • 2007, Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
  • MTV Movie Awards
    • 2006, Best Comedic Performance: (Madea's Family Reunion)- Nominated
    • 2006, Breakthrough Male Performance: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)- Nominated


  1. ^ Christian, Margena A. (October 2008). "Becoming Tyler: bill collector turned billion-dollar media mogul was molded from pain, promise and persistence". Ebony. p. 4.;col1. 
  2. ^ Segal, Andy (July 23, 2009). "Perry's greatest accomplishment has nothing to do with business". CNN. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Diary of Mad Black Woman". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  5. ^ Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion (2006)
  6. ^ Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls (2007)
  7. ^ Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns (2008) - Weekend Box Office Results
  8. ^ Christian, Margena A., Becoming Tyler.Ebony. Oct. 2008: 83.
  9. ^ "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself". Entertainment Weekly. August 21, 2009.,,20299647,00.html. Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
  10. ^ "'Precious' trailer: Mo'Nique... potential Oscar nominee?". PopWatch. Entertainment Weekly. May 13, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ Christian, Margena A., Becoming Tyler.Ebony. Oct. 2008: 78.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Gregg (2008), Writers at Tyler Perry Studio to Take Strike Action – Will Picket Grand Opening and Ask Invited Guests Not To Attend, 
  13. ^ Exclusive: Tyler Perry's Madea Has Scored Again, This Time in Bookstores
  14. ^ Littleton, Darryl (2006), Black Comedians on Black Comedy: How African-Americans Taught Us to Laugh, Hal Leonard Corporation, p. 300, ISBN 1557836809 
  15. ^ "Tyler Perry Biography - Inspired by Oprah...". 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-16.  J Rank's biography website article
  16. ^ a b Tyler Perry Biography, 2009,, retrieved 2010-01-16 listing for Tyler Perry
  17. ^ Park Y, Michael (October 6, 2009). "Tyler Perry Reveals He Was Abused as a Child". People.,,20310438,00.html. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  18. ^ Karu F. Daniels (2009). "The Week That Was: Tyler Perry....". Retrieved 2010-01-16.  BV Newswire report on Forbes rankings.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Paper: Entertainers named in steroid report -
  21. ^ Tyler Perry sending day-care children to Disney World
  22. ^ Tyler Perry website - "I am so mad" - 07/19/09
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Tyler Perry: A Hollywood Bachelor's Take on Marriage". 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-16.  CBN Lionsgate news interview with Perry re: marriage.
  25. ^ "Tyler Perry Studios Opens in Atlanta". 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-16.  Grand opening announcement for Tyler Perry Studios

External links

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