Tyler Perry’s rise from a poor, abusive childhood to billionaire media mogul is well documented. He has written, produced and starred in countless plays, TV series and movies, authored a number of books and, in 2008, opened a 200,00 sq ft studio in Atlanta. That has since expanded to a complex containing 12 soundstages — each dedicated to one of 12 African-American entertainment icons, from Denzel Washington to Diahann Carroll, who passed away the day the studios’ star-studded opening on October 5 last year.
An enduring element of his work has been the character of Madea, the “God-fearing, gun-toting, pot-smoking, loud-mouthed grandmother” played by Perry himself, who first appeared in 2000 in the play I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Ten films and 10 plays featuring the “grandmother with anger-management problems” followed, contributing to the sustained success of the Perry media empire.
TV production stepped up when Perry struck a deal with Oprah Winfrey which saw a number of his series enjoying success on Winfrey’s OWN network. Five years later he signed a multi-year partnership to produce original drama and comedy across the Viacom networks, and a first-look movie deal with Paramount.
Openly religious, Perry lives out his faith with action, supporting many charities that help the poor and the homeless, including the Global Medical Relief Fund, Charity Water, Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure and Perry Place, a 20-home community that Perry built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
“People ask me all the time, ‘How did you make it?’ I say it in the press all the time, but people cut it out — it was nothing but the grace of God. If I had not had faith in my life, I don’t know where I would be right now.” He adds: “I love to give. I’ve been a giver all my life.” A life he thoroughly — and openly — enjoys, famously saying: “I’m just enjoying my life. I suggest you try it.”
During MIPCOM, Tyler Perry is in conversation with Anna Carugati, editorial director of World Screen — and is being honoured with the World Screen Trendsetter Award for 2020.
Watch Tyler Perry’s MIPCOM keynote, and countless other sessions, on MIPCOM Online+; open until November 17!