From “Poor as Hell” to a rich and powerful. That’s a basic description of Tyler Perry’s financial journey as he’s become a trailblazer in building a billion.
Tyler Perry, who came from a poor upbringing, to writing and producing his own plays and touring the “Chitlin’ Circuit” and even being homeless, is now officially a billionaire.
Perry, who has produced over 1,2000 episodes on TV and a 22 feature films, and his 330 acre studio in Atlanta, owns 100% of his creative output.
He used that control to leverage a deal with ViacomCBS that pays him $150 million a year for new content and gives him an equity stake in BET+, the streaming service it debuted last September. Forbes estimates Perry has earned more than $1.4 billion in pretax income since 2005, which he used to buy homes in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as two planes.
Forbes estimates his worth at about $1 billion dollars and looks to be on the Forbes 400.
Here’s a breakdown of how Forbes is calculating Tyler’s milestone net worth:
— $320 million for his entire library of movies, TV shows, plays, etc., as he owns 100% of the content he’s created
— $300 million in cash and investments
— $280 million for Tyler Perry Studios, which sits on 330 acres in Georgia
— $60 million for his equity stake in BET+, the streaming service that debuted last year.
— $40 million in homes and toys
One of the most stunning facts about Perry is that his 330 acre studio lot sits on the former military base Fort McPrerson on the souther edge of Atlanta. The base used house prisoners during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Its historic brick homes and structures have hosted luminaries including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Colin Powell.
One stunning fact is that Perry used to sleep in his car in the same area of the base that he now owns and has named “Tyler Perry Studios”.
It’s a stunning turnabout in history’s the once confederate military base is now owned by a black man.
He paid $30 million for the property in 2015 and has since spent $250 million building a studio operation that’s now more than twice the size of the storied Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California—all of it paid for with the cash he’s brought in churning out movies and television programming for the past 15 years.
Perry has rented studio space to major productions including Walt Disney’s Black Panther, the Will Smith sequel Bad Boys for Life and TV’s The Walking Dead.
With his studio humming, Perry is taking a page from Disney and Universal for lot development, with plans to build restaurants, shops and an entertainment complex with a theater and a theme park–like experience. Think Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, but with the feel of a down-home Southern kitchen. Perry admits that such a venture will take him outside of his comfort zone in terms of scope, control—and debt, since his business has always been, extraordinarily, a self-financed, all-cash operation. His plans also include housing for trafficked women and LGBTQ youth, and an academy to teach kids who grew up like he did the things he never learned—financial literacy, for one.