Perry at the 82nd Academy Awards
(March 7, 2010)
|Born||Emmitt Perry, Jr.
September 13, 1969
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, author, screen and playwright, producer, director, songwriter|
Tyler Perry (born Emmitt Perry, Jr.; September 13, 1969) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, producer, author, and songwriter, specializing in the gospel genre. Perry wrote and produced many stage plays during the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2011, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment; he earned $130 million between May 2010 and 2011.
Perry is best known for both creating and performing in drag the Madea character, a giant, overreactive, and thuggishly tough elderly woman. Perry is also well known for creating both stage play and conventional onsite films. Between the two, his stage play films debuted first in 1998 with I Know I've Been Changed. His career with conventional onsite films began in 2005 with Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which features the character Madea, his claim to fame. Many of Perry's conventional onsite films are based on and titled after his stage play films.
Perry currently has an upcoming Madea film in the works: A Madea Christmas (conventional onsite film based on the play), slated for release on December 13, 2013. In addition, Perry has announced that he's working on a Madea animated film for kids.
Early life 
Perry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, as Emmitt Perry, Jr., the son of Willie Maxine Perry (née Campbell) and Emmitt Perry, Sr., a carpenter. He has three siblings. Perry once said his father's "answer to everything was to beat it out of you". As a child, Perry once went so far as to attempt suicide in an effort to escape his father's beatings. 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.
Many years later, after seeing the film Precious, he was moved to relate for the first time accounts of being molested by a friend's mother at age 10; he was also molested by three men prior to this, and later learned his own father had molested his friend.
While Perry did not complete high school, he earned a 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 $12,000 life savings. 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 received a $5.5 million budget to fund his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which went on to gross $50.6 million domestically, while scoring a 15 percent approval rating at the film review web site Rotten Tomatoes. On its opening weekend, February 24–26, 2006, Perry's film version of 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 $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 $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 $20.1 weekend gross. The Family That Preys opened on September 12, 2008, and grossed over $37.1 million.
Madea Goes to Jail opened at number one on February 20, 2009, grossing $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, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett, Jr., Jill Scott, and Malik Yoba. As of April 18[when?], the film had grossed over $54 million domestically, with $29 million made the opening weekend.
Perry directed a film adaptation of Ntozake Shange's 1975 choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide 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 $25.8 million at the box office, taking second place.
In January 2011, it was announced that Perry would take over the role of James Patterson's Alex Cross from Morgan Freeman for the film adaptation of Alex Cross. The film opened on October 19, 2012, receiving mainly negative reviews from critics, but Perry received positive reviews from critics and audience for his performance.
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 $16,000,000. The movie also stars Thandie Newton, Rebecca Romijn, Gabrielle Union, Eddie Cibrian, Jamie Kennedy, Phylicia Rashad, and others.
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.
In November 2012, it was announced that Perry will release a new film entitled Single Moms Club, slated to open on May 9, 2014. Another upcoming film Perry has in the works is A Madea Christmas, set for release on December 13, 2013.
Film partnerships and distribution 
Perry's films are co-produced and distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment; he retains full copyright ownership under the corporate name Very 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.
Perry produces a television show titled Tyler Perry's House of Payne, which follows an African-American household of three generations. The show demonstrates the family members' struggles with faith, love, and living with different generations. The show ran in the spring of 2006 as a 10-show pilot. After the successful pilot run, Perry signed a $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. The third season began on March 5, 2008, and the fourth season on June 4, 2008.
Perry wrote, directed and produced the sitcom Meet the Browns, which premiered on TBS on January 7, 2009. Another show, 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 November 25, 2011.
Perry will have three new TV shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The Haves and the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor, a spinoff of House of Payne, featuring the character Floyd, will both premiere on May 29, 2013.
Legal actions 
The Writers Guild of America, West 
The Writers Guild of America, West has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that Perry's production company, House of Payne, unlawfully fired four writers in October 2008 in retaliation for their trying to get a union contract. The dispute was settled a month later, when Tyler Perry Studios 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 Caucasian male (John Cowan) in drag, named "Ma'Madea". The offending ad was dropped from circulation.
Perry's first novel, 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 stayed on the list for 12 weeks. It was voted Book of the Year, Best Humor Book at the 2006 Quill Awards.
Criticism and parodies 
Criticism of Perry’s work focuses mainly on a perception that it perpetuates negative racial stereotypes.
Despite praising Perry in 2006, in 2009 director Spike Lee criticized his work when interviewed by Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise, saying, "Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is 'coonery' and buffoonery. I know it's making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better ... I see these two ads for these two shows [Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and House of Payne] and I am scratching my head ... We got a black president and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep 'n' Eat?" When Gordon cited Perry’s success among black audiences and asked Spike if Perry wasn’t just giving black America what they wanted, he responded, "We've had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [created his films], people came out to see Boyz n the Hood, but when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us. You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and the man has a huge audience, Tyler's very smart. ...We shouldn't think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African Americans, we're not one monolithic group so there is room for all of that, but at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to Amos 'n' Andy."
In September 2009, Jamilah Lemieux made similar remarks on National Public Radio. While thanking Perry for employing blacks in front of and behind the camera and for making work with humor and "positive messages about self-worth, love and respect", she criticized him for making television shows "marked by old stereotypes of buffoonish, emasculated black men and crass, sassy black women." She took him to task for his Madea character saying that through this, "the country has laughed at one of the most important members of the black community: Mother Dear, the beloved matriarch. [...] Our mothers and grandmothers deserve much more than that." She stated that she appreciated that he was dismissive of critics' comments concerning his work, "but many black folks have expressed some of the very same attitudes about your work that white critics have." She stated that blacks "have been fed the same images of ourselves over and over and over because they sell." She felt that his success had been "mired with the worst black pathologies and stereotypes" and called on him to "stop dismissing the critics as haters and realize that black people need new stories and new storytellers."
Lemieux’s criticism of Perry was cited and expanded upon by the author Tom Burrell in his 2010 book Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority. Burrell cited Perry’s 2008 film Meet the Browns as an example of when "we black people pull the trigger for our own image assassination." Burrell also stated, "...it's not entirely fair to expect Perry to chart a new course alone. His movies and TV shows would not be so successful if blacks didn't have a raging appetite for messages and images that project us as dysfunctional or incompetent. Nothing that occurred during Amos 'n' Andy’s radio and television reign could match the words and actions of black comedies like Madea and The Browns. Our attraction to self-demeaning images came way before, and goes far beyond, Tyler Perry." Burrell called for new images of blacks in entertainment and a new vision of black self-image.
Perry (and Madea) were satirized in a June 2010 episode of the Adult Swim animated series The Boondocks; the Los Angeles Times called this episode "one of the sharpest public criticisms of Perry".
In February 2011, actor Idris Elba caused controversy when he criticised Perry. Elba, who has previously starred in one of Perry's romantic comedies (Daddy's Little Girls), lamented the trend for cross-dressing caricatures of black characters – a phenomenon many would recognize from films such as the The Klumps and Big Momma's House series – describing it as "buffoonish". Elba maintains the view that change should occur in Hollywood to address the recent under-representation of black actors in Hollywood and the controversy it has caused. Elba said: "Imagine a film such as Inception with an entire cast of black people – do you think it would be successful?" Elba asks. "Would people watch it? But no one questions the fact that everyone's white. That's what we have to change."
Cultural critic Touré stated in an April 21, 2011 NPR All Things Considered interview that "Tyler Perry is perhaps the worst filmmaker in Hollywood" and was quoted as saying earlier that Perry is the "KFC of black cinema".
On May 4, 2011, Perry was satirized by South Park in the episode "Funnybot". He was given an award for Worst Comedian ever, and the black characters in the episode, Token Black and President Obama, express their own disbelief that they can't stop watching his comedy and giving him money. At the end of the episode Perry, as Madea, is buried and encased in steel with Obama's declaring, "I am pleased to announce that the greatest threat to mankind has now gone forever. Justice has been done."
In an article for The Boulevardier, the magazine's editor-in-chief, Alexander T. MacGregor, Jr., heavily rebuked Perry's works in his article titled "Mental Slavery of the Modern African Americans", stating "I would argue that he is one of the most dangerous men in America, as his machinations have only worked to feed African-American stereotypes, and validate the ignorant behaviour of some African Americans in society by giving their actions credence."
Following the House of Payne series finale on August 10, 2012, Tyler Perry received many complaints and comments on his website and Facebook page about the cliffhanger that ended the series finale, in which Miranda walks out saying she wants a divorce.
The title of Joshua Alston's A.V. Club review of Temptation (dated April 18, 2013) aptly describes the article's content: "Why white critics' fear of engaging Tyler Perry is stifling honest debate". Several other journalists have lauded the article and contributed to that conversation, such as ThinkProgress' Alyssa Rosenberg in "Are Critics Afraid to Go After Tyler Perry? How to Get Over It—And Write Better About Race Every Day" (April 22, 2013) and The Nation's Michelle Dean in "Race and Tyler Perry: Do We Really Need More Commentary From White People?" (April 19, 2013).
In October 2009, during a 60 Minutes interview, Perry was read a quote of Spike Lee's comments about his work and responded, "I would love to read that [criticism] to my fan base. ...That pisses me off. It is so insulting. It's attitudes like that, that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist, and that is why there is no material speaking to them, speaking to us." Perry also stated that "all these characters are bait – disarming, charming, make-you-laugh bait. I can slap Madea on something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those."
Perry’s work has also been defended by Oprah Winfrey, who joined Perry in promoting Lee Daniels' film Precious (2009). She 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."
Goldie Taylor, of The Grio and MSNBC, stated in an April 21, 2011 NPR All Things Considered interview regarding Perry's target audience: "I don't think Tyler Perry is talking to Touré. I don't think he's talking to me, but I know that he's speaking directly to my mother, my sister, my cousins and meeting them at their point of need, and that's what art and filmmaking is about." In the same interview, NPR's Michele Norris reported Perry had said a week earlier: "Spike Lee can, quote, 'go straight to hell'."
Personal life 
Perry describes himself as a Christian. He has become good friends with Janet Jackson, Will Smith, and Oprah Winfrey. 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.
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, his mother, Willie Maxine Perry, died at age 64, following an illness. As of 2012, he is unmarried. He lives and works in Southwest Atlanta where he operates the Tyler Perry movies and TV studios. In August 2010, it was reported that he had purchased Dean Gardens, a 58-acre (230,000 m2) estate in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek. He was reportedly planning to tear down the existing 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) mansion and build a new, environmentally friendly home on the property.
As of October 2012, he reportedly owns a house in the hills above Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Film work 
|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|
|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|
|Tyler Perry Presents Peeples||No||No||Yes||No|
|A Madea Christmas||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Madea, Joe|
|2014||Single Moms Club||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Stage work 
|1999||I Know I've Been Changed||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Joe|
|2000||I Can Do Bad All By Myself||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Madea|
|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||Bartender / Madea|
|2004||Why Did I Get Married?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2005||Meet the Browns||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Madea (voice)|
|2006||Madea Goes to Jail||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Madea|
|2007||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||Madea|
|2012||Aunt Bam's Place||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2012||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|
Television work 
|2006–2012||Tyler Perry's House of Payne||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Madea|
|2009–2011||Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2011–present||Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2013||Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|2013||Tyler Perry's Love Thy Neighbor||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Awards and nominations 
Awards won are in bold
BET Comedy Awards 
- 2005, Outstanding Actor in a Theatrical Film (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
- 2005, Outstanding Writing for Theatrical Film (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
BET Best Movie Awards 
- 2012, Best Movie (Good Deeds)
Black Movie Awards 
- 2006, Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2006, Outstanding Motion Picture (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2005, Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
- 2005, Outstanding Motion Picture (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
Black Reel Awards 
- 2008, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted (Meet the Browns)
- 2008, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted (The Family That Preys)
- 2007, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2005, Best Breakthrough Performance (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
- 2005, Best Screenplay Original or Adapted: (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
- 2009, Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie (The Family That Preys)
- 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Why Did I Get Married?)
- 2007, Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2007, Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture or Television Movie (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2006, Best Comedic Performance (Madea's Family Reunion)
- 2006, Breakthrough Male Performance (Diary of a Mad Black Woman)
- 2010, Best Actor (Madea Goes To Jail)
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- Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture - Sheri Parks - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
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- "‘Peeples’ Trailer Makes Meeting the Parents More Awkward Than Usual". Screenrant.com. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
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- Alyssa Rosenberg (April 22, 2013). "Are Critics Afraid to Go After Tyler Perry? How to Get Over It - And Write Better About Race Every Day". ThinkProgress.
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- "Tyler Perry Studios Opens in Atlanta". 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2010. Grand opening announcement for Tyler Perry Studios
- Katherine Q. Seelye, "In Georgia, a Megamansion is Finally Sold", New York Times, August 22, 2010.
- Michelle E. Shaw, "Tyler Perry to build home in Johns Creek", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 18, 2010.
- Tyler Perry8,342,294 likes · 27,555 talking about this. "Tyler Perry". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-12-31.
- Tyler Perry Official website
- Tyler Perry's 34th Street Films Official website
- Tyler Perry at the Internet Movie Database
- Tyler Perry at AllRovi
- Tyler Perry at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Interview with Tyler Perry on beliefnet.com
- Tyler Perry on RottenTomatoes