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To think of Tyler Perry as simply the man behind the character of Madea is to do him a disservice. Perry is an incredibly savvy and successful film director, producer, writer, and actor. He’s been able to leverage that success into a fortune worth billions.

But how exactly was he able to do that? Perry’s story is a master class in how to win in Hollywood by believing in your own talent and investing in yourself. Here’s the story of how Perry became a billionaire. 

The beginning of Tyler Perry’s career

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

According to, Perry’s moment of inspiration came while watching Oprah. A guest on the show discussed the process of writing about challenges in life and how it could lead to good things.

Perry then wrote letters to himself. These letters later served as the foundation for his first production: a musical known as I Know I’ve Been Changed. The show dealt with many elements of Perry’s deep-seated Christian beliefs.

The show was a failure initially — it drew an audience of only 30 people after Perry invested $12,000 to pull it off. But it laid the groundwork for Perry’s future successes. He later rented out the House of Blues in Atlanta, and the show slowly but surely became a hit. 

In 2000, Perry wrote a play called I Can Do Bad All By Myself, which featured his most iconic character: the wisecracking, sassy grandmother Madea, played by Perry himself. Madea became Perry’s breakout hit of a character, starring in multiple plays of his. He amassed quite a following and later transitioned to movies. 

Tyler Perry’s movies have made a lot of money

If Perry’s work as a playwright laid the foundation for his career, his movies fulfilled the earlier promise of those works. According to The Numbers, Perry’s films have been wildly successful at the box office. Perry has directed 23 films that have grossed well over $1 billion — that’s with a “b” — both domestically and worldwide. 

Perry’s success certainly isn’t hard to figure out. It’s a combination of one man having an undeniable work ethic. It also represents someone finding the right audience.

Perry’s films aren’t always critically acclaimed — in fact, more than a few of his offerings have received low praise from critics. But Perry’s work has resonated with a significant number of people who always come back for more. When Perry puts out a film, his fans show up in droves. 

How did Tyler Perry become a billionaire? 


Tyler Perry Slams Critics Who Complain That He’s the Sole Writer of His Shows and Films

Perry puts out films and plays that a lot of people enjoy and will pay money to see. That’s a big reason why he’s been so successful. But to figure out how Perry parlayed that into billions involves looking into his career strategy, which has clearly paid off in a big way.

According to Forbes, Perry’s net worth is estimated to be right at $1 billion. The difference between Perry and many other creators? Perry owns all his content, which is an extensive collection dating back to the 1990s. 

Perry also opened his own production studio called Tyler Perry Studios. This lot, which is 330 acres big, is in Atlanta, Georgia. It has 12 sound stages with a series of custom-made sets for film and TV production. Perry previously created content for Winfrey’s network before signing a major deal to create for Viacom. 

Perry’s recipe for success? Spend years toiling and honing your craft. Then, after building an audience, cash in. It’s what made him more than just a successful artist. He’s now also a billionaire.