Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry was a powerhouse American actor, director, writer and producer who was best known for creating the immensely popular Madea character, a no-nonsense elderly African-American woman, who was played by Perry in a string of widely successful films from 2005 to 2019. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Perry grew up in an abusive household. His father would often beat him, which sunk Perry into a deep depression as a teenager. In later years, Perry would also reveal that he was sexually abused at the age of 10 by a friend's mother, a deeply traumatic event that only added to his depression. Perry never finished high school but did earn his GED, and in 1990, when he was 20 years-old, he fled New Orleans and moved to Atlanta. It was in Atlanta, while scraping by working in an office, that Perry just happened to catch an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Syndicated, 1986-2011). Oprah was interviewing a guest who spoke about the healing powers of writing to overcome traumatic events in one's life. Intrigued, Perry picked up a pen and began writing a series of letters to himself which would go on to become his first musical play "I Know I've Been Changed." Perry eventually saved $12,000 to put the play on at a community theater in Atlanta in 1992. The show flopped, however, with Perry failing to recoup his investment. Determined to share his play with a wide audience, Perry spent the next 6 years endlessly rewriting the play until he got it absolutely right. Finally satisfied with the version he came up with, Perry put on the retooled version of "I Know I've Been Changed" at the House of Blues in Atlanta. This time, the play was a hit, and over the next several years Perry gained a devoted following in the African-American community for writing and appearing in a series of popular plays he toured the country with. With the money he earned from touring, Perry decided to write, produce and star in his very first film, 2005's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." That film, which was made for $5.5 million, introduced the Madea character to the world, and was a hit at the box office, making over $50 million. More Madea films followed, including "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006), "Madea's Witness Protection" (2012), "A Madea Family Funeral" (2019). Perry retired the character in 2019, saying "A Madea Family Reunion" would be the last of his films the character would appear in. Throughout his time focusing on the Madea film franchise, the inexhaustible Perry made a name for himself outside the character by acting in numerous films, writing and directing his own projects, and producing various films and TV shows. As an actor, Perry wowed audiences for his impressive work in films like "Alex Cross" (2012), "Gone Girl" (2014), and "Vice" (2018). He also was the producer behind several successful television shows, including "House of Payne" (TBS, 2007-2012), "The Haves and Have Nots" (OWN, 2013- ), and "The Paynes" (OWN/BET, 2018- ). In 2012, Perry's entertainment career came full circle when he signed a partnership deal with the Oprah Winfrey Network to produce scripted shows to OWN. In his partnership with OWN, Perry has produced a number of successful shows like "The Haves and Have Not" and "The Paynes." In 2019 Perry began producing shows for Viacom, including "The Oval" (BET, 2019- ) and "Sistas" (BET, 2019- ). Both shows premiered in the fall of 2019 on BET.