Tyler Perry will never forget the struggles he faced on the way to billionaire status, including living in a small car during a bout with homelessness.
On Monday, the director took to Instagram to share a few words of gratitude while behind the wheel of his Geo Metro, which he drives on occasion to remind himself of how far he’s come.
“Every now and then I take my Geo Metro out for a spin. (When I was homeless it was a car just like this that was my shelter),” he began. “If looking back at how far you’ve come doesn’t make you thankful, I don’t know what will. There’s no way to be ungrateful when you appreciate every blessing you have. And if you’re still in the struggle please fight on…. It’s so sweet on the other side of pain.”
Born in New Orleans, Perry dropped out of high school as a teen and began working at a hotel, later becoming a car salesman and a bill collector as he worked on his first plays, Forbes reports. After saving up $12,000, Perry rented a community theater space and produced the play Know I’ve Been Changed. Due to the investment, he was unable to pay his rent and lived in his car for three months.
With the creation of Madea, Perry found great success in touring the southern market, and eventually caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey. He went on to create 11 movies centered on the character over 14 years with Lionsgate before retiring the franchise in 2019.
As of late, the billionaire is looking to purchase BET from Paramount — alongside fellow potential bidders Byron Allen and Sean “Diddy” Combs. The network helped finance Perry’s first film, Diary Of A Mad Black Woman, in 2005. As of fall 2020, Perry holds a $60 million equity stake in BET+, where much of his content lives, including House of Payne, Sistas, The Oval, Ruthless, Zatima, and Assisted Living.