Mandatory Man: Tyler Perry, Once ‘Poor As Hell,’ Is Now a Billionaire

Talk about upward mobility! Tyler Perry, the writer, director, and producer best known for his Madea franchise, is the world’s newest billionaire. This would be an impressive accomplishment in its own right for anyone, but it’s even more meaningful for a guy like Perry because he used to be homeless.

Yes, the New Orleans native and high-school dropout once lived on the streets and out of his car as he struggled to establish himself as a playwright.

“I love when people say you come from ‘humble beginnings,’ ” he told Forbes. “[It] means you were poor as hell.”

It’s safe to say he’ll never be “poor as hell” again. After making 11 successful Madea films, winning the Ultimate Icon Award at the BET Awards, and establishing Tyler Perry Studios (making him the first Black man to own an independent studio), Perry just earned a spot on Forbes’ list of billionaires with more than $1.4 billion to his name since 2005.

In other words: he’s officially on Easy Street for the rest of his life.

“I always believed that it would work,” he told Larry King in a 2009 interview. “No matter what happened, it would work. No matter what, one day it would come to pass.”

What makes Perry a Mandatory Man, however, isn’t just his accumulation of wealth. It’s also the fact that he gives back. From paying for people’s Walmart layaways to donating funds to a church in need, he recognizes the importance of sharing the spoils with others. Let’s hope he continues to break down barriers in Hollywood and be a generous benefactor as his entertainment empire grows.

Cover Photo: NBC (Getty Images)

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