Tyler Perry is Hollywood's newest official billionaire. Forbes estimates that, for the last 15 years, he has been earning more than $1.4 billion in pretax income and has a net worth of $1 billion. He recently struck a deal with ViacomCBS to deliver new content for $150 million and an equity stake in its streaming service, BET+.
Perry has officially made it to the top, but in an interview with Forbes published Tuesday, he said things were not easy growing up. The media mogul recalled being raised by an abusive man who he thought was his father, but later discovered was not. Perry dropped out of high school and began writing plays that he would perform at small theatres across the country.
"You got to understand, I had no mentors," he said. "My father doesn’t know anything about business, and my uncles and mother, they know nothing about this. I didn’t go to business school. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned in progress."
Perry tried to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible during those years and it eventually paid off. Today he owns property in Wyoming, New York, LA and Atlanta, where he built a studio on the grounds of Fort McPherson. Most recently, he used his wealth to pay for the funeral of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed earlier this year by Atlanta police after a scuffle.
"Ownership changes everything," Perry said.
Now his rags to riches story inspires countless others.
"I love when people say you come from 'humble beginnings.' It means you were poor as hell," he said, relishing how things have turned out.
"I own the lights. I own the sets," he said. "So that’s where the difference is. Because I own everything, my returns are higher."
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