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

  • 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…

    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…

  • Ad

  • 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…

  • Ad

  • The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise

    The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise Its main purpose is to introduce actors to “imaginary circumstances” (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Adrienn/Pexels) The Knock-at-the-Door Exercise is an acting exercise, where one actor engages in a serious, consequential…

    Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break 

    Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break  Ten years of darkness before the light finally broke through (by Carmichael Phillips) (Aaron Paul in El Camino) Jesse Pinkman is not his actual…

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend Why you should never rehearse in front of your mirror (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Phinehas Adams/Unsplash) Do you rehearse your lines in front of a mirror? Do…

  • Ad

  • 5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors

    5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors Budgeting is a crucial skill in the actor’s life (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Michael Longmire/Unsplash) All you need to do is look at your last W2, the…

    Actor Stories: How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend 

    Actor Stories:  How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before, He Became a Legend  Nothing, not even cancer, can kill a legend (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Marshall, 2017) Age 43…

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman A fantastic actor, taken much too soon (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther) The world continues to mourn the loss of Chadwick Boseman, the talented young actor…

    The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue

    The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue How to choose a monologue that fits you like a glove (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Monica Silvestre/Unsplash) It’s important to choose a monologue that makes…

    Bryan Cranston: “I knew I wanted to become an actor. I’m not going to have a fallback plan.”

    Bryan Cranston: “I knew I wanted to become an actor. I’m not going to have a fallback plan.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad) “I knew I wanted to become…

  • Ad

  • Viola Davis: “Pay Me What I’m Worth” 

    Viola Davis: “Pay Me What I’m Worth”  (arranged by AM Staff) (Viola Davis) “Pay Me What I’m Worth!” “What they (Caucasian women) are getting paid, which is half of what a man is…

    4 Things Actors Should Be Grateful for Despite the Pandemic 

    4 Things Actors Should Be Grateful for Despite the Pandemic  Take a brief moment to be grateful for the things you have (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Simon Maage/Unsplash) Did you lose out on…

    There is Power in Your Eyelids

    There is Power in Your Eyelids  How using your eyelids can captivate an audience (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Craig Adderley/Unsplash) One of the first rules-of-thumb when it comes to on-camera acting technique is…

  • Ad

  • SAG-AFTRA eligible

    What does “SAG-AFTRA eligible” mean?  Some basic info about being SAG-AFTRA eligible (by Jim Webb)  (Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash) The union formerly known as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) represents performers in various areas…

    Talent Agent vs Talent Manager: What is the Difference? 

    Talent Agent vs Talent Manager: What is the Difference?  The lines are sometimes blurred, but both have distinct roles in the industry  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: christina@wocintechchat.com/Unsplash) There’s always confusion when it comes…

    Jessica Chastain: Be a script detective

    Jessica Chastain: Be a script detective Jessica Chastain speaks about the importance of script analysis (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, 2016) Every playwright or screenwriter has a very serious problem…

    5 Ways the Actor’s Life Might Change After the Coronavirus 

    5 Ways the Actor’s Life Might Change After the Coronavirus  It’s a whole new world out there, actors!  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: United Nations/Unsplash) Buckle your safety belts, actors. Life as you used…

    Should an Actor Ever Work for Free? 

    Should an Actor Ever Work for Free?  Just make sure it’s part of your plan  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash) Should an actor ever work for free? Should you ever work for…

    A Farewell to Carl Reiner 

    A Farewell to Carl Reiner  Reiner became a force in Hollywood, thanks to his acting skills, jokes and creative ingenuity (by AM Staff)  (Carl Reiner in Ocean’s Eleven) We would like to bid…

    5 Basic Facts About Uta Hagen

    5 Basic Facts About Uta Hagen  “If you want a bourgeois existence, you shouldn’t be an actor” (by Tonya Tannenbaum) Uta Hagen was an American who rose to prominence, first as a successful…

    Memory vs. Imagination: Which Approach Works Best?

    Memory vs. Imagination: Which Approach Works Best? Actors have many different devices for achieving magic (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Ben Sweet/Unsplash) How should an actor work-up the emotions needed to perform a scene…

    Load More