With his newest film, The Family that Preys set to open nationwide September 12, New Orleans native Tyler Perry is an inspiration to anyone who writes scripts in their spare time.
Perry, 39, held a series of odd jobs, and even lived in a car for a spell, in the early 1990s while trying to make it as a playwright. (He credits watching Oprah on television as his inspiration to put pen to paper.) In 1998 his gospel musical “I Know I’ve Been Changed” began drawing crowds at the House of Blues in Atlanta. “It’s been 100 miles an hour ever since,” he has said.
And millions of dollars, too. His first feature film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, cost less than $6 million to produce and grossed more than $50 million worldwide. Now Perry, who also has a successful sitcom, House of Payne, will open Tyler Perry Studios in October. The complex will be located on a 28-acre property just outside Atlanta and will feature five soundstages.
His new movie The Family That Preys, shows how two families from different walks of life come together. Recently MainStreet got together with the prolific Perry to learn what motivates him.
MainStreet: How is The Family That Preys different than your other movies?
Tyler Perry: With this movie, there’s a different way of storytelling. I’m meeting more people in my life, different people from different cultures. As I meet more people, I write more stories. I’m a student of life.
MS: You believe, “your gift will make room for you,” at what age did you form this belief?
TP: It’s from the Bible, I remember hearing it when I was very young. And then began watching it happen. I think around 28 is when I began getting it. That was the year for me, and it’s actually a year for a lot of people. If you’re lucky you go into your thirties understanding it.
MS: What has been the backbone of your career?
TP: My faith, absolutely, my faith. It’s knowing that what I’m doing and how I’m doing it will lead me. As long as I care about it, I know I will continue to be led, and be ok.
MS: What are three tips you have for people looking to turn their passion into a career?
TP: Have faith, believe and keep going. Just keep going, no matter what.
MS: And are you still going 100 miles an hour?
TP: I am, I am. 110 tonight!