*With a highly successful run in theater, movies and television, Tyler Perry is living proof that it pays to follow your own path to making your brand one to watch.
Appearing recently alongside Ava DuVernay at the Produced By Conference, Perry touched on the path he took to building his $2 billion dollar multimedia empire after starting in the world of theater more than 20 years ago, Deadline.com reported. While many have shared their thoughts on racism in Hollywood, don’t expect the entertainment mogul to be one of those people.
“I’m not the person to ask about racism in this town, coming from where I came from I never had to go through what I’ve heard a lot of people had to go through in this town,” Perry told DuVernay in front of a packed crowd at the Sherry Lansing Theatre on the Paramount lot as a part of the two-day PGA event. “I got into this town and I didn’t understand it.”
Regarding the tendency of Hollywood types not being straightforward, Perry repped the South as laughter came from the crowd when the topic was brought up.
“I’m from the South where they tell you they don’t like your ass if they don’t like something,” he bluntly stated. “This town, with so much madness inside, it will talk you out of what you feel is your instinct, what you feel you should do. The key is to learn how to be malleable and fluid inside a system that will constantly battle your instinct.”
Perry went on to weigh in on thoughts of African-American-directed projects not being promoted internationally, in addition to touting the value of being the underdog as he recalled how he exceeded expectations with this first movie release, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” in 2005. With that comes the added benefit of having full ownership and control of what you put out.
“The great thing is I’m telling everyone in this world is if you get a deal where you are underestimated, that is a sweet thing,” he noted. “We put the film out on Oscar weekend and it made $25 million on opening weekend on this $5 million film.”
“I get people saying how much they love my DVDs in places I ‘ve never heard of and that I know I’m not selling there,” Perry added. “My greatest battle is getting people to understand that these stories are universal and play around the world.”
Perry’s chat with DuVernay, which lasted more than an hour, covered a variety of points in Perry’s career. Adding to this was advice the entertainer dispensed on how to hide your car from repossession, getting 17 jobs between trying to get his plays off the ground, lessons learned from his audience and the reason why he puts his name above the titles of his projects.
“I started putting my name on the title, so people knew it would be better than the other stuff out there.” Perry shared. “In 1998, I tried the show one more time, sold out … because I stayed true to myself.”
DuVernay later chimed in the discussion with praise for “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels and Shonda Rhimes while reminding the audience to not get caught up over,“ this lovely period where we have more than two shows on television with black people in them.”
“There’s seven …let’s keep that in perspective,” added the “Selma” filmmaker, who has done work in TV herself.
Taking a question from the audience about Black America’s depiction on the big and small screen, Perry replied saying, “I just want to tell the stories of the people I know, I want to tell those kinds of stories. I don’t want to leave this planet until I achieve everything that I was put here to do,”