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Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry Interview 2016.jpg
Perry being interviewed for Boo! A Madea Halloween in 2016
Emmitt Perry Jr.

(1969-09-13) September 13, 1969 (age 54)
  • Actor
  • film producer
  • director
  • writer
  • playwright
  • entrepreneur
Years active 1992–present
Partner(s) Gelila Bekele (2009–2020)
Children 1

Tyler Perry (born Emmitt Perry Jr.; September 13, 1969) is an American actor, filmmaker, and playwright. He is the creator and performer of Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a tough elderly woman, and also portrays her brother Joe Simmons and her nephew Brian Simmons. Perry's films vary in style from orthodox filmmaking techniques to filmed productions of live stage plays, many of which have been subsequently adapted into feature films. Madea's first appearance was in Perry's play I Can Do Bad All by Myself (1999) staged in Chicago.

Perry wrote and produced many stage plays during the 1990s and early 2000s. His breakthrough performance came in 2005 with the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which he wrote and produced as an adaptation of his stage play of the same name. He also developed numerous television series, most notably Tyler Perry's House of Payne, which ran for eight seasons on TBS from 2006 to 2012. In 2011, Forbes listed him as the highest-paid man in entertainment, earning $130 million between May 2010 and May 2011. In 2012, Perry struck an exclusive multi-year partnership with Oprah Winfrey and her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The deal featured scripted projects such as The Haves and the Have Nots. In 2019, he produced the political drama series The Oval for BET.

Outside of his own productions, Perry has been cast in numerous Hollywood films including Star Trek (2009), Alex Cross (2012), Gone Girl (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016), Vice (2018), Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021), and Don't Look Up (2021). Perry has also done voice acting for animated films such as The Star (2017) and PAW Patrol: The Movie (2021).

Perry's films and shows have cumulatively grossed over $660 million, and his net worth is an estimated $1 billion. Despite commercial success, his productions have received criticism from critics and scholars who believe his films perpetuate negative or offensive portrayals of African Americans, along with the critical reception itself being largely negative. In 2020, Perry was included in Time's list of the 100 most influential people and received the Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Additionally, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Awards in 2021, and was inducted into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame the following year.

Early life

Perry was born Emmitt Perry Jr. in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Willie Maxine Perry (née Campbell) and Emmitt Perry Sr., a carpenter. He has three siblings. He once said his father's answer to everything was to "beat it out of you". In contrast to his father, his mother took him to church each week, where he sensed a certain refuge and contentment. At age 16, he had his first name legally changed from Emmitt to Tyler in an effort to distance himself from his father. A DNA test taken by Perry indicated that Emmitt Sr. was not Perry's biological father.

While Perry did not complete high school, he earned a General Educational Development (GED). In his early 20s, watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, he heard someone describe the sometimes therapeutic effect 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, Perry moved to Atlanta, where two years later I Know I've Been Changed was first performed at a community theater, financed by the 22-year-old Perry's life savings of US$12,000 (equivalent to $26,879 in 2022). The play included Christian themes of forgiveness, dignity, and self-worth, while addressing issues such as child abuse and dysfunctional families. The musical initially received a "less than stellar" reception and was a financial failure. Perry persisted, and over the next six years he rewrote the musical repeatedly, though lackluster reviews continued. In 1998, at age 28, he succeeded in retooling the play and restaging it in Atlanta, first at the House of Blues, then at the Fox Theatre. Perry continued to create new stage productions, touring with them on the so-called "Chitlin' Circuit" (now also known as the "urban theater circuit") and developing a large, devoted following among African-American audiences. In 2005, Forbes reported that he had sold "more than $100 million in tickets, $30 million in videos of his shows and an estimated $20 million in merchandise", and "the 300 live shows he produces each year are attended by an average of 35,000 people a week".


Perry raised a US$5.5 million budget in part from the ticket sales of his stage productions to fund his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which went on to gross US$50.6 million domestically, while scoring a 16% approval rating at the film review web site Rotten Tomatoes. Perry made his directorial debut on his next film, an adaptation of Madea's Family Reunion, and has directed all of his subsequent Madea films. On its opening weekend, February 24–26, 2006, Madea's Family Reunion opened at number one at the box office with $30.3 million. The film eventually grossed $65 million. Perry and his co-stars promoted the film on The Oprah Winfrey Show. As with Diary, almost all of the Madea's earnings have been generated in the United States.

Perry's next Lionsgate project, Daddy's Little Girls, starred Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba and was released in the United States on February 14, 2007. It grossed over US$31 million. Perry wrote, directed, produced and starred in his next film, Why Did I Get Married?, released on October 12, 2007. It opened at number one, grossing US$21.4 million that weekend. It is loosely based on his play of the same name. Filming began March 5, 2007, in Whistler, British Columbia, a resort town north of Vancouver, then moved to Atlanta, where Perry had 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 number 2 with a US$20.1 million weekend gross. The Family That Preys opened on September 12, 2008, and grossed over US$37.1 million.

Madea Goes to Jail opened at number one on February 20, 2009, grossing US$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, also in 2009, Perry had a small role as the Starfleet Academy commandant Admiral Barnett in Star Trek, which opened on May 8. This was his first film appearance outside of his own projects. Perry next wrote, directed, and starred in I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009), a film structured around his Madea character. This was Perry's eighth film and it also made number one at the box office. In 2009, Perry teamed with Oprah Winfrey to present Precious, a film based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Why Did I Get Married Too?, the sequel to Why Did I Get Married?, opened in theaters on April 2, 2010. It featured Janet Jackson, Tasha Smith, Jill Scott, and Malik Yoba. The film grossed US$60 million domestically, with US$29 million made the opening weekend.

82nd Academy Awards, Tyler Perry - army mil-66455-2010-03-09-180359 (cropped)
Perry in 2010 at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony

Perry directed a film adaptation of Ntozake Shange's 1975 choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered ... When the Rainbow Is Enuf, which was released in theaters November 5, 2010. He appeared in the stage show Madea's Big Happy Family, which toured the U.S. as a stage play and was released as a movie in 2011, written, directed by and starring Perry. The film version of Madea's Big Happy Family raked in US$25.8 million at the box office, taking second place. Perry's next film with Lionsgate was Good Deeds, in which Perry plays lead character Wesley Deeds. Good Deeds is a romantic drama film written, directed by, and starring Perry. The film was released on February 24, 2012. It is the tenth of eleven films that Perry directed and appears in. The film received a 29% rating by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and opened with a box office US$15.5 million gross. The movie also stars Thandie Newton, Rebecca Romijn, Gabrielle Union, Eddie Cibrian, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, and others.

As of June 2011, Perry's films had grossed over US$500 million worldwide. Perry's Madea's Witness Protection, his seventh film within the Madea franchise, was released on June 29, 2012.

Perry took over the role of James Patterson's Alex Cross from Morgan Freeman for a new film in the series, titled Alex Cross. The film which opened on October 19, 2012, was panned by critics and audiences, with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 11% & 47% positive respectively, and became a box office bomb. His performance gained the attention of director David Fincher, who subsequently cast Perry in his 2014 thriller Gone Girl, co-starring with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Perry released his thirteenth film, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (based on his 2008 play of the same name) on March 29, 2013. The film stars Lance Gross, Jurnee Smollett, Brandy Norwood, Robbie Jones, Vanessa L. Williams, and Kim Kardashian. He produced Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, released on May 10, 2013. He returned to the big screen with A Madea Christmas, released on December 13, 2013. Perry directed the film The Single Moms Club, which opened on March 14, 2014. His first animated movie Madea's Tough Love was released on DVD January 20, 2015. In 2016, Perry played scientist Baxter Stockman in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. In mid-January 2016, Perry started filming his seventeenth film, and ninth within the Madea franchise, Boo! A Madea Halloween. The film was released on October 21, 2016. A sequel, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, was released in October 2017. Perry, alongside Oprah Winfrey, lent his voice in his first computer-animated film, called The Star, which is based on the Nativity of Jesus. Developed by Sony Pictures Animation, the film was released on November 17, 2017.

Film partnerships and distribution

Perry's films are co-produced and distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment; he retains full copyright ownership under the corporate name Tyler Perry Films, and places his name in front of all titles. Perry's movies have seen very limited release outside North America, but in May 2010, Lionsgate announced plans to begin releasing his films in the United Kingdom.

Television programs

Perry produced the long-running sitcom Tyler Perry's House of Payne, which ran for 8 seasons from June 21, 2006, to August 10, 2012. The series followed an African-American household of three generations. The show demonstrated the family members' serious, true-to-life struggles with faith and love. The show ran in the spring of 2006 as a 10-show pilot. After the successful pilot run, Perry signed a US$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. Perry also wrote, directed and produced the sitcom Meet the Browns, which premiered on TBS on January 7, 2009, and ended on November 18, 2011.

OWN and partnership with Oprah

In 2009, Perry co-produced Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire alongside Oprah Winfrey and Lee Daniels. The film was directed by Daniels and starred Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique. While promoting the film Oprah told an interviewer, "I think [Perry] grew up being raised by strong, black women. And so much of what he does is really in celebration of that. I think that's what Madea really is: a compilation of all those strong black women that I know and maybe you do too? And so the reason it works is because people see themselves."

On October 2, 2012, Perry struck an exclusive multi-year partnership with Oprah Winfrey and her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The partnership was largely for the purposes of bringing scripted television to OWN, Perry having had previous success in this department.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, based on his films Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?, premiered on TBS on November 25, 2011. The series was cancelled by TBS in February 2013 but was revived by OWN for a third season, which began on September 18, 2013.

Perry also had two other television series featured on OWN: the hour-long soap opera/drama series The Haves and the Have Nots and the sitcom Love Thy Neighbor. The Haves and the Have Nots premiered on May 28, 2013, and completed its series run after 8 seasons on July 20, 2021. The program was credited by Oprah Winfrey as bringing success to her network and opened the door for a host of other highly rated dramas to OWN. During its series run, The Haves and the Have Nots had numerous Nielsen rating highs for the OWN broadcasting station: it was reported on May 29, 2013, that The Haves and the Have Nots set a new record for OWN, scoring the highest ratings ever for a series premiere on the network. Love Thy Neighbor scored the second highest ratings ever for a series premiere on OWN, behind The Haves and the Have Nots. The Haves and the Have Nots gave OWN some of its highest ratings during its 8-year series run, the program hailed as "one of OWN's biggest success stories with its weekly dose of soapy fun, filled with the typical betrayals, affairs and manipulations."

Contrastingly, however, Love Thy Neighbor had struggled in ratings. The Have and the Have Nots remained the network's highest rated program for most of its run. On February 4, 2014, The Haves and the Have Nots came in as the most watched program in all of cable television for the night. On March 11, 2014, a Haves and the Have Nots season 2 episode set an OWN record when it scored the highest ratings in the network's history. The record-breaking episode brought in 3.6 million viewers, surpassing the 3.5 million that tuned in for the Oprah's Next Chapter interview with Bobbi Kristina which was the network's previous highest rated viewing.

On January 9, 2014, as part of Perry's continued partnership with OWN, the network ordered its fourth scripted series (and fourth series by Perry) based on the feature film, The Single Moms Club, called If Loving You Is Wrong. The hour-long drama series premiered on September 9, 2014.

Tyler Perry Studios

In 2015, Perry acquired the 330-acre former military base Fort McPherson located in Atlanta, which he converted to studios. The studios were used to film the HBO Films/OWN film version of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and is currently in ongoing use for the television series The Walking Dead. 50,000 square feet of the site are dedicated to standing permanent sets, including a replica of a luxury hotel lobby, a White House replica, a 16,000-square-foot mansion, a mock cheap hotel, a trailer park set, and a real 1950s-style diner that was relocated from a town 100 miles away; it also hosts 12 sound stages named after highly accomplished African-Americans in the entertainment industry. The blockbuster Marvel film, Black Panther, was the first to be filmed on one of the new stages at Tyler Perry Studios as announced personally by Perry on his Instagram account on February 19, 2018.

Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest film studios in the nation and established Perry as the second African-American to outright own a major film studio, after Tim and Daphne Reid.


On June 14, 2017, Perry signed a long-term deal with Viacom (now ViacomCBS) for 90 episodes/year of original drama and comedy series. Viacom will also have distribution rights to short video content and a first look at film concepts (the first film from this deal was Nobody’s Fool). The TV deal began fall 2019 with The Oval, Sistas and BET+ (a brand new streaming service) premiering with strong ratings for BET.


Tyler Perry
Perry at a book signing in 2006

Perry's first book, 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 30,000 copies. The hardcover reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list and remained on the list for 12 weeks. It was voted Book of the Year, Best Humor Book at the 2006 Quill Awards.

His second book, Higher Is Waiting, was published on November 14, 2017. It debuted at number 5 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Legal actions

The Writers Guild of America, West

The Writers Guild of America, West filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that Perry's production company, Tyler Perry Studios, unlawfully fired four writers in October 2008 in retaliation for them trying to get a union contract. The dispute was settled a month later, when TPS agreed to be a WGA signatory.

Mo' Money Taxes

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

Personal life

Perry is good friends with Janet Jackson, Will Smith, and Oprah Winfrey.

Perry is a Christian. Many of the themes in his work reflect theology and social behavior indicative of the predominantly black church culture, such as the many scenes in both his stage and screen work that feature church settings and worship styles commonly found in predominantly African American churches, including showcases of gospel music and artists.

In 2007, Perry bought a 17-acre estate in the Paces neighborhood of Buckhead, Atlanta. In May 2016, he sold the house for $17.5 million, also closing the biggest deal ever for a private home in the Georgia capital. In 2013, his company, ETPC LLC, purchased around 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) in the New Manchester, Georgia area of Douglas County, Georgia.

On July 20, 2009, Perry sponsored 65 children from a Philadelphia day camp to visit Walt Disney World, after reading that a suburban swim club, the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, had shunned them. He 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."

On December 8, 2009, Perry's mother, Willie Maxine Perry, died at age 64, following an illness. He lives and works in Southwest Atlanta where he operates the Tyler Perry film and TV studios. In August 2010, it was reported that he had purchased Dean Gardens, a 58-acre estate in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek. He tore down the existing 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) mansion and planned, but never built, a new, environmentally-friendly home on the property.

On November 30, 2014, Perry's partner Gelila Bekele gave birth to their son, Aman. In December 2020, Perry announced that he was a single bachelor.

In September 2017, Perry purchased a house in Mulholland Estates, a gated community in Los Angeles. Nine months after buying the estate, Perry sold the property for $15.6 million.

Perry owns vacation properties in both Wyoming and the Bahamas.

On March 7, 2021, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex publicly revealed in the television interview Oprah with Meghan and Harry that Perry provided initial security and housing for three months that allowed the couple to safely relocate from Canada to California in March 2020, following the withdrawal of their British royal protection. Perry is also godfather to their daughter, Princess Lilibet of Sussex.

Following the death of Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Perry uploaded a video to his Instagram account where he spoke about his own struggles with depression.

To overcome his fear of flying, Perry took flight training lessons and obtained a private pilot certificate. He flies a Cirrus SR22T aircraft.


Film work

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman No Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
2007 Daddy's Little Girls Yes Yes Yes No
Why Did I Get Married? Yes Yes Yes Yes Terry Bob
2008 Meet the Browns Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe
The Family That Preys Yes Yes Yes Yes Ben
2009 Madea Goes to Jail Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
Star Trek No No No Yes Admiral Barnett
I Can Do Bad All By Myself Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe
Precious No No Yes No
2010 Why Did I Get Married Too? Yes Yes Yes Yes Terry Bob
For Colored Girls Yes Yes Yes No
2011 Madea's Big Happy Family Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe
2012 Good Deeds Yes Yes Yes Yes Wesley Deeds
Madea's Witness Protection Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
Alex Cross No No No Yes Alex Cross
2013 Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor Yes Yes Yes No
Peeples No No Yes No
A Madea Christmas Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2014 The Single Moms Club Yes Yes Yes Yes TK
Gone Girl No No No Yes Tanner Bolt
2015 Madea's Tough Love No No Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian (voices)
2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows No No No Yes Dr. Baxter Stockman
Brain on Fire No No No Yes Richard
Boo! A Madea Halloween Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
2017 The Star No No No Yes Cyrus the Camel (voice)
Boo 2! A Madea Halloween Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian
2018 Acrimony Yes Yes Yes No
Nobody's Fool Yes Yes Executive No
Vice No No No Yes Colin Powell
2019 A Madea Family Funeral Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea, Joe, Brian, Heathrow
2020 A Fall from Grace Yes Yes Executive Yes Rory Garraux
2021 Those Who Wish Me Dead No No No Yes Officer Arthur Phillip
PAW Patrol: The Movie No No No Yes Truck Driver (voice)
Don't Look Up No No No Yes Jack Bremmer
2022 A Madea Homecoming Yes Yes Executive Yes Madea, Joe
A Jazzman's Blues Yes Yes Yes No
TBA Six Triple Eight Yes Yes Yes No Post-production
TBA Mea Culpa Yes Yes Yes No Post-production
TBA Black,White, and Blue Yes Yes Yes No Post-production
TBA Divorce in the Black Yes Yes Yes No Filming

Television work

Year Show Credited as
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
2007–2012; 2020–present House of Payne Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2009–2011 Meet the Browns Yes Yes Yes No
2011–2017 For Better or Worse Yes Yes Yes No
2013–2021 The Haves and the Have Nots Yes Yes Yes No
2013–2017 Love Thy Neighbor Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2014–2020 If Loving You Is Wrong Yes Yes Yes No
2016–2017 Too Close to Home Yes Yes Yes No
2016 The Passion: New Orleans No No No Yes Host/Narrator
2018 The Paynes Yes Yes Yes No
2019–present The Oval Yes Yes Yes No
2019–present Sistas Yes Yes Yes No
2020–present Young Dylan Yes Yes Yes No
2020–present Ruthless Yes Yes Yes No
2020–present Bruh Yes Yes Yes No
2020–present Assisted Living Yes Yes Yes No
2021–present All the Queen's Men Yes Yes Yes No
2022–present Zatima Yes Yes Yes No

Stage work

Year Play Credited as
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
1993 I Know I've Been Changed Yes Yes No Yes Joe
1999 Woman, Thou Art Loosed! Yes Yes Yes Yes The Rent Man
1999 I Can Do Bad All by Myself Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2000 Behind Closed Doors Yes Yes Yes No
2001 Diary of a Mad Black Woman Yes Yes Yes Yes Daddy Charles / Madea
2002 Madea's Family Reunion Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2003 Madea's Class Reunion Yes Yes Yes Yes Dr. Willie Leroy Jones / Madea
2003 Why Did I Get Married? Yes Yes Yes No
2004 Meet the Browns Yes Yes Yes No Madea (voice only)
2004 Madea's Christmas Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2005 Madea Goes to Jail Yes Yes Yes Yes
2006 What's Done in the Dark Yes Yes Yes No
2008 The Marriage Counselor Yes Yes Yes No
2009 Laugh to Keep from Crying Yes Yes Yes No
2010 Madea's Big Happy Family Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2011 A Madea Christmas Yes Yes Yes Yes
2011 Aunt Bam's Place Yes Yes Yes No
2011 I Don't Want to Do Wrong Yes Yes Yes No
2012 The Haves and the Have Nots Yes Yes Yes No
2012 Madea Gets a Job Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2013 Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned Yes Yes Yes No
2013 Madea's Neighbors from Hell Yes Yes Yes Yes Madea
2017 Madea on the Run Yes Yes Yes Yes
2019 Madea's Farewell Play Yes Yes Yes Yes

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Tyler Perry para niños

  • Disappearance of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos – Tyler Perry offered a $200,000 reward for information in the case and has worked to raise publicity for the case.
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