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Writer, actor, producer, and director Tyler Perry has built an entertainment empire that consists of successful films, plays, and a best-selling book.
Tyler Perry - Full Episode (45:18)
Tyler Perry made a risky move by trying his hand at film making and creating his first feature film "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which debuted at No. 1 at the box office.
After the success of his debut play, Tyler Perry created the character that would go on to become a loved figure in all of his productions, Madea.
Before making it big in film and television, Tyler Perry struggled to get his foot in the door as a playwright in Atlanta.
Tyler Perry grew up in poverty in New Orleans and struck it rich with his straight-talking, advice-pushing, grandmotherly character Medea.
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Tyler Perry was born September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had a difficult childhood, suffering years of abuse. In 1992 he directed, produced, and starred in the musical I Know I've Been Changed. His 2000 play, I Can Do Bad All by Myself brought to life the character Madea, who would later appear in several successful films. Perry continues to write and produce new plays.
Writer, actor, producer, director. Born Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tyler Perry has forged his own way in the entertainment industry, building an empire that consists of successful films, plays, and even a best-selling book. One of four children, he had a difficult childhood, suffering years of abuse at the hands of his carpenter father. He once described his father as a man "whose answer to everything was to beat it out of you."
At one point, Perry even attempted suicide in an effort to escape his difficult situation. At 16, he changed his first name to Tyler to separate himself from his father. Perry dropped out of high school, but he eventually earned a general equivalency diploma, or GED, later. Trying to find his way professionally, he held a series of unfulfilling jobs before discovering his true passion.
Watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey's talk show, Perry was inspired by a comment on the program about how writing about difficult experiences could lead to personal breakthroughs. He started a series of letters to himself, which became the basis for the musical I Know I've Been Changed. While the show tackled such tough subjects as child abuse, it also touched on forgiveness, a theme has remained central in many of his works and reflects his deep connection to his Christian faith. After saving up $12,000, Perry debuted the show—which he directed, produced, and starred in—at an Atlanta theater in 1992. The musical's run lasted only one weekend and drew a measly 30 people to see the show.
Disappointed yet determined, Perry continued to work odd jobs while reworking the show. He staged the show in several other cities, but success still eluded him. Broke, Perry was living out of his car for a time. "Can you imagine a six-foot-five man sleeping in a Geo Metro?" he once told Essence magazine. In 1998, Perry tried one more time to win over theater audiences. He rented out the House of Blues in Atlanta for another production of I Know I've Been Changed. Soon Perry was performing to sell out crowds and the musical was moved to a larger theater. After so many years of hard work, he finally earned critical acclaim as well as commercial success.
For his next project, Perry worked on an adaptation of evangelist T. D. Jakes's book Woman, Thou Art Loosed, which proved to be quite popular. His next effort, however, brought to life his most famous character Madea. The gun-toting, sharp-tongue grandma first appeared in his 2000 play, I Can Do Bad All by Myself.
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