Tyler Perry is an American actor, producer and director. He was born as Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had three other siblings, and a very difficult childhood. His father was a carpenter and used to frequently physically abuse his family. Perry mentioned in later interviews how his father used to beat him and his siblings over ever trifling issue. Tyler was depressed growing up, and even tried to commit suicide to escape the harsh realities of his young life. However, his attempt was unsuccessful and he decided to separate from his family. At the age of 16, he left his father’s house, dropped out of high school and changed his name to Tyler to end any associations with his earlier life.
Perry later went back to high school and earned a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). He worked a number of odd jobs to make enough money to survive on. It was during this time that he turned to writing. Inspired by an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, on which Oprah talked about expressing your feelings by writing them, Perry began to do the same. He began writing a series of letters to himself, in which he expressed his innermost struggles about life. Using this material, Perry consolidated and edited them to form the basis for his first show, a musical called “I Know I’ve Been Changed”. The show addresses many serious issues such as child abuse, and forgiveness for others. In order to finance the show, Perry began saving all the money he earned from working odd jobs, and eventually managed to save $12,000.
He used these savings to put on the first production of “I Know I’ve Been Changed” at a theatre in Atlanta. The show performed very poorly, only ran for one weekend, and only attracted a crowd of about 30 people. Having lost all his savings, Perry returned to working odd jobs. However, he did not give up on his dream and continued to put up performances of his play in different cities. None of these took off, and Perry was virtually bankruprt. At one point, he was living in his car