Filmmaker and playwright Tyler Perry has joined the ranks of entertainment's billionaires, according to an estimate by Forbes magazine.
Largely through real estate, including a massive Atlanta studio complex he owns, and by retaining full ownership of his productions rather than partnering with studios, the "Madea"-movies auteur has a net worth of $1 billion, Forbes said Tuesday. This puts him in the company of reality-show producer John de Mol, founder of Endemol ($1.9 billion), Oprah Winfrey ($2.5 billion), Steven Spielberg ($3.7 billion) and George Lucas ($5.7 billion).
"I love when people say you come from 'humble beginnings,' " Perry, who turns 51 on Sept. 13, told the magazine. "[It] means you were poor as hell." He added, "Ownership changes everything."
Perry avoided film and TV producers' standard arrangement of content co-ownership after establishing a fortune through his touring plays about Madea, a strong-willed and straight-talking grandmother he played in drag, and yet finding himself unable to break into Hollywood. He instead founded a soundstage in Atlanta and began self-producing a low-budget sitcom that eventually became "House of Payne," picked up by TBS in 2007 for $200 million.
Today, says Forbes, Perry owns outright a film, TV and theater library worth $320 million and a 330-acre studio worth $280 million. He additionally has a $60 million stake in the streaming service BET+, $300 million in cash and investments and $40 million in homes and — the magazine added without elaborating — toys.