Filmmaker Tyler Perry, who unapologetically wears his faith on his sleeve, has released a new video giving his fans the answer to his success: “The grace of God.”
“You know what the question is that a lot of people ask me all the time, ‘How did you make it, how did you make it?’ Well I tell you there is only one answer for that,” Perry said in his video testimonial. “The truth be told, it was nothing but the grace of God.”
“I say this in the press all the time but people will cut it out of articles or they don’t wanna print it or they don’t wanna say it,” Perry added.
The “Precious” producer, now close friends with media royalty Oprah Winfrey, has seen a rough start before his multi-million dollar success in theater and film.
Perry was born Emmit Perrry Jr., in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had his first name legally changed from Emmitt to Tyler at age 16 to rid himself of his abusive father’s name. Perry, also an admitted victim of molestation, attempted suicide to escape his father’s excessive beatings.
“You can plant seeds all day long. You can go around giving your business card to people, you can go around knocking on doors and auditioning,” Perry explained, lamenting that most people who do these things may “still not make it.”
“All you can do is plant your seed in the ground, water it and believe.”
Perry also explained how he saved up thousands of dollars from tax rebates to rent out theaters year after year, only to find that barely anyone had come to watch his plays. Still, he never gave up and stuck to his love of the theater.
“Put all your energy into watering one area. If you spread the water across many seeds, you don’t have as much water for one seed. Focus on one thing. Make it your priority,” the “Daddy’s Little Girls” director said.
Perry, now a successful director, producer, playwright, screenwriter and entrepreneur, burst onto the scene in 2005, when he released his first film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” based on his play carrying the same name. Perry, also the founder of Tyler Perry Studios, was named the highest paid man in entertainment by Forbes in 2011, where he earned $130 million between May 2010 and 2011.
Perry’s work has been criticized by many media personnel and independent filmmakers, most avidly fellow director Spike Lee, for his constant use of religion and black caricatures to win over certain audiences.
"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?" Lee said in 2009 when interviewed by Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise.
"I think [Perry] grew up being raised by strong, black women. And so much of what he does is really in celebration of that,” Winfrey, who also produced the Oscar nominated film “Precious” with Perry, said in Perry’s defense to an interviewer.
“I am a human being. There is no difference between my humanness and your humanness. The only thing is, if you’re trying to get there, you cannot stop believing… in any way,” Perry reiterated in his video testimonial.