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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 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.
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Basing Madea on his mother and several other mature women in his life, Perry played the eccentric character himself wearing drag. She next appeared in Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2001).
Developing quite a following, Madea has starred in a number of plays, including Madea's Family Reunion (2002) and Madea's Class Reunion (2003). Perry toured extensively with his shows. According to his website, 35,000 people a week saw one of his shows in 2005.
That same year, Perry proved himself to be a box office powerhouse with the release of his debut film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, starring Kimberly Elise as the scorned wife and Steve Harris as the adulterous husband. Perry appeared as three different characters in the film, including the legendary Madea. Eventually grossing more than $50 million, the film's success showed Hollywood that there was a market for urban African American comedies.
Perry's plays continued to make a successful leap to the big screen. He took on the leading role in Madea's Family Reunion (2006), which he also directed and produced, which scored well with movie goers bringing in more than $63 million. Now a major media figure, Perry established his own movie and acting studio in Atlanta that year. He also launched his first television series, House of Payne, on the TBS cable network. Starring Cassi Davis and LaVan Davis, both of whom have worked with Tyler previously, this sitcom features a multigenerational African American family.
Adding to his already dynamic career, Perry wrote the 2006 best-selling book, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life. The book went on to win two Quill Awards—Book of the Year and Best in Humor.
Back on the big screen, Perry has continued making films about family, morals, and overcoming adversity. Daddy's Little Girls starred Idris Elba as a father who fights regain custody of his three daughters with help from a lawyer played by Gabrielle Union. In Why Did I Get Married?, Tyler explores the relationships of several married couples. The large cast included singers Jill Scott and Janet Jackson as well as Perry sans his Madea costume. Examining the struggles of a single mother, Meet the Browns (2008) starred Angela Bassett who takes her two children to meet her father's family after his death. In August 2008, it was announced that the film is being adapted into a television sitcom, which will premiere in January 2009.
Perry's next release, The Family That Preys (2008), features two talented veteran performers, Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodward, as two longtime friends who try to heal their broken families. Next up for Perry, another film installment featuring one of America's best-known grandmothers, Madea Goes to Jail, which is slated for release in 2009. He also has a role in the latest big screen volume of the Star Trek saga—another 2009 release.
Despite all of his work in film and television, Perry continues to write and produce new plays. His latest effort, The Marriage Counselor, is currently on tour.
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