Actor Stories: How Tyler Perry Went from Homeless to Hollywood Mogul

By Webmaster

  • Actor Stories:
    How Tyler Perry Went from Homeless to Hollywood Mogul

    Tyler Perry, the actor/director/playwright, proves that you can go from homeless dreamer to Hollywood Mogul if you believe in yourself and never stop trying

    (arranged by Carmichael Phillips)

    (Tyler Perry as Madea)

    If you think your struggles are overwhelming; if you think your dreams of success in the entertainment business are insurmountable; then you should reflect on Tyler Perry’s perilous journey. You’ll probably conclude that your plight isn’t nearly as grievous as it seems.

  • Tyler Perry, the actor/director/playwright, proves that you can go from broke, homeless dreamer to Hollywood Mogul if you believe in yourself and never stop trying.


    I don’t think the dreams die – I think that people give up. I think it gets too hard. There were so many dark days when I wanted to lie there and die.

    (Tyler Perry)


    Tyler Perry’s struggle was real. It involves physical, verbal and sexual abuse as a child. It involves family discord and school failures.

    But the part of Perry’s life we’d like to focus on are his struggles as a young actor and aspiring playwright. This piece caught our eye, from an interview he did with Oprah several years ago:


    The director, playwright, and actor is the first black studio mogul in American history—but…years ago he was living in his car.

    Tyler…grew up in New Orleans, in a physically abusive home. Outside the home he was also sexually abused, as he recently revealed on my show. The trauma left him confused and angry—one especially “nasty” outburst got him kicked out of high school—but he found an outlet in writing about his life.


    (Tyler Perry in Gone Girl)

    In 1992, Tyler moved to Atlanta with the dream of staging his first play. When that effort failed (and failed, and failed, six times over), he was left homeless, disheartened, and broke—but not broken.

    As Perry explains:

    “[I] Moved from New Orleans to Atlanta, wrote the show, had all my money tied up in it. I had worked selling used cars, I had worked at hotels, I had saved my tax return, I’d saved $12,000 to put this play up, and I thought 1,200 people would see it over a weekend. Thirty people showed up. It was pretty devastating, because to do this, I had to leave the job I had.”

    This is the kind of rejection that would lead most aspiring performers to move on to other pursuits and abandon their dreams altogether. But for the dreamer who chooses to continue the fight, great things can happen. That’s what Tyler Perry did.

  • “I went back to work, started trying to do the show again. And then I got an opportunity to do it and went to my boss and said, “I need time off.” They wouldn’t give it to me, so I had to quit. I tried to do the show again the following year. It failed again. But there was something in me that said, This is what you’re supposed to do.”


    (Tyler Perry in Alex Cross)

    Rejection did not force Perry to quit. But it certainly brought him close to the brink.

    “March 12, 1998. I had made the choice to do this last show. And this time there was a line of people around the corner trying to get in the place. From that moment on, the houses have been sold out everywhere.”

    He kept on pursuing his dream, and in 1998 it finally took flight, when hundreds of mostly African-American fans lined up to buy tickets for the seventh staging of the show he’d devoted his life to, I Know I’ve Been Changed. Since then millions of people have turned out to see Tyler’s work.


    Tyler Perry’s story is nothing short of miraculous. He overcame person pain and professional setbacks to become one of the most powerful men in the entertainment business. He now owns his own studios and produces and stars in his own movies. And, in September, Forbes reported that Tyler Perry is Hollywood’s newest billionaire!

  • This story, of course, is not typical. Most actors will never achieve the heights that Tyler Perry has achieved. But his story is proof of the value of tenacity and perseverance, hard work and dedication.

    One can only imagine the many times he considered giving up: the times he put on a play and no one showed up, the nights living in seedy motels or in his car, the times he lost all his money.


    There was something in me that said, This is what you’re supposed to do.

    (Tyler Perry)


    Had he quit, he would not be the Tyler Perry we know today. He would not be starring in movies like Alex Cross (2012), Gone Girl (2014) and Vice (2018). He would not be the producer of television shows like Tyler Perry’s House of Payne or Meet the Browns. And he would never be the owner of his own movie studio, Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre converted military base in Atlanta, Georgia.

    And, bonus, had Tyler Perry quit on his dreams when times got rough, we might never have been introduced to the hilarious “Madea”, his signature character that he performs in drag. And what a drag that would have been!


  • You Might Also Like:
    Actor Stories: Molly Shannon’s 10-Year-Struggle to Beat the Odds in Hollywood


     

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • 4 Things to Remember When Writing Your Cover Letter 

    4 Things to Remember When Writing Your Cover Letter  Keep it short, sweet and to the point. (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) You probably already know what marketing materials you…

    Give Me Feedback on My Self-Tape, or Pay Me for It!

    Give Me Feedback on My Self-Tape, or Pay Me for It! Casting directors don’t even give us the courtesy of a little feedback on our self-tapes (The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio |…

    What is Taft-Hartley? 

    What is Taft-Hartley?  Let’s explore the law, and the report, that gets actors in the door of America’s largest actor union (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) A Taft-Hartley is the…

    Stella Adler, On the Importance of Confidence 

    Stella Adler, On the Importance of Confidence  “No actor is a success unless he feels inside himself…that he is good.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) “No actor is a success unless he feels inside…

    The Acting World Goes Virtual 

    The Acting World Goes Virtual  And that’s a good thing!  (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Beci Harmony | Unsplash) As the old saying goes, “The only constant is change.” But in this new Covid-19…

  • Ad

  • Actors Losing Health Insurance at an Alarming Rate 

    Actors Losing Health Insurance at an Alarming Rate  Covid-19 is forcing changes that put new constraints on the accessibility of health insurance (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Bermix Studio | Unsplash) Covid-19 has dramatically…

    10 Actors We Loved and Lost in 2020

    10 Actors We Loved and Lost in 2020 Here’s a partial list of some of the actors we will miss (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo source: Jamie Street/Unsplash) No doubt, 2020 was a rough…

    What is a SAG-AFTRA Must-Join? 

    What is a SAG-AFTRA Must-Join?  Let’s explore this SAG-AFTRA status… (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Eunice Lituanas | Unsplash) A “Must-Join” is the label placed on actors who have surpassed the grace period (usually…

  • Ad

  • Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process” 

    Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process”  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Bill Nighy) “I’m old enough to say that I’ve never knowingly been in character in my life.” Bill Nighy, the English…

    Create Your Own Opportunities!

    Create Your Own Opportunities!  What’s your excuse for not producing your own projects and casting yourself?  (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash) The advent of things like social media and the internet allows…

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.”

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.” Viola Davis describes her character-building and collaboration process (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Viola Davis) “I read the script over and over and over again….

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor? 

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor?  How having a mentor can help you save time, money and your sanity (by Jim Webb) (Photo: neONBRAND/unsplash) You already know that taking acting classes can help…

    Good News & Bad News for Background Actors

    Good News & Bad News for Background Actors  There are lucrative opportunities for those fortunate enough to find them  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips)  (Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash) There has been lots of bad news for…

  • Ad

  • The 3 Main Types of Commercials 

    The 3 Main Types of Commercials  Commercial actors can benefit from understanding the distinctions (by Javier Guerra) A commercial is a commercial is a commercial. They’re all the same, right? Except, they are…

    Ed Harris: “Acting is a lifelong situation.” 

    Ed Harris:  “Acting is a lifelong situation.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Ed Harris in Westworld) “Acting is a lifelong situation…’til you drop dead.” Ed Harris is one of the most successful character actors…

    The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!

    The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!  The subtle ways that sleep impacts your performance (by Todd Bruce) (Photo: Damir Spanic/Unsplash) Not getting enough sleep at night? Do you…

  • Ad

  • The Self-Tape Request from Hell!

    The Self-Tape Request from Hell! Sometimes casting directors ask for far too much! (by The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Usman Yousaf/Unsplash) Forgive me for saying this, but this self-taping thing has gone too far!…

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass There simply has never been a better time to be an actor (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Roy Alanwar/Unsplash) Aren’t you glad to be…

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less Quick! Sell your acting career in 10 seconds or less! (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: August de Richelieu/Unsplash) Quick! Sell your acting career in 10…

    What is a Right-to-Work State?

    What is a Right-to-Work State?  There are currently 27 Right-to-Work states in the United States (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Joey Csunyo/Unsplash) A right-to-work state is a state that forbids union security agreements. That…

    7 Words That Can Trip an Actor Up

    7 Words That Can Trip an Actor Up  Confusing, isn’t it? (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash) As if the acting business was not perplexing enough, there’s always something else to confuse the…

  • Ad

  • Edie Falco: “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.”

    Edie Falco:  “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie) “Just make sure you’re always working on something. Representation or not.”…

    The Virtual Audition Waiting Room

    The Virtual Audition Waiting Room “It’s now your turn to audition, please enter Studio B.” (by The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Vladimir Fedotov/Unsplash) The global pandemic has forced us all to reevaluate the way…

    The Pandemic Ruined My Actor Life!

    The Pandemic Ruined My Actor Life! But here’s to hoping things get back to normal (by The Anonymous Actor)  (Photo: Cristian Newman/Unsplash) My Last Normal Day…  I can’t remember the exact date. To…

  • Ad

  • The Actor’s Job Description

    The Actor’s Job Description  Help wanted. Apply now! (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Yogendra Singh/Unsplash) Help wanted: ACTORS Employer: The Entertainment Industry Salary: $52,000 annually, on average Bonuses: Possibly Millions Benefits: Health and Retirement…

    The Power of Positive Thinking

    The Power of Positive Thinking  Pledge to never allow another negative thought to enter your mind (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Dingzeyu Li/Unsplash) Isn’t it amazing how much our brains can influence us with…

    Deadlines Are DEAD-lines

    Deadlines Are DEAD-lines  Going past deadlines may not get you shot, but they can certainly kill opportunities (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Markus Winkler/Unsplash) Once upon a time, prisons didn’t have high walls with…

    Every Take Should Be Different, Every Performance Should Be Different

    Every Take Should Be Different, Every Performance Should Be Different Always keep this rule in mind (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Rene Ranisch/Unsplash) Here’s an easy way to know whether you are truly acting…

    Actor Stories: Michael Clarke Duncan Lied on His Résumé to Get His Big Break at Age 42!

    Actor Stories:  Michael Clarke Duncan Lied on His Résumé to Get His Big Break at Age 42!  He left behind an incredible legacy, and an unbelievable actor story (by Carmichael Phillips) (Michael Clarke…

    Get to Know Zoom

    Get to Know Zoom Zoom auditions offer the acting world a lifeline during this ongoing, global pandemic (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Visuals/Unsplash) You ever get a song stuck in your head that you…

    Michael B. Jordan: “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.”

    Michael B. Jordan: “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.” (arranged by AM Staff) (Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station) “After all my auditions, I started throwing my sides away.”…

    The Latino Actor: An Uphill Battle for Representation and Inclusion

    The Latino Actor:  An Uphill Battle for Representation and Inclusion (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Craig Adderley/Pexels) Of all the underrepresented minority groups in Hollywood, the Hispanic and Latino actor probably faces the steepest…

    Load More