Tyler Perry beat the odds as black studio owner

56828985Tyler Perry is known today as the first African-American to own a major film and TV studio. He’s a pioneer whose own life story is a rags-to-riches tale that reads like a screenplay.  Now a writer, actor, director and producer — Perry’s success grew out of a troubled home in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. Strong on faith, Perry named his first play “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” after an old Negro spiritual. It was a gospel musical about two adult survivors of child abuse.

In 1991, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as a bill collector and eventually scraped together enough money to rent a small theatre and stage the play. With only 30 people in the audience, the play was a flop. For the next several years, he struggled and was often broke and sometimes lived in his car.

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Pictured: Actor Tyler Perry arrives at the 17th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar party held at the Pacific Design Center on February 22, 2009 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for EJAF)