Tyler Perry is simply one of the most important people working in all of entertainment. Full stop.
A prolific studio mogul who acts, writes, directs and produces, Perry's empire is estimated to be worth at least $600 million—quite the happy returns for a guy who was living out of his car when he staged his first play.
"Hollywood wanted nothing to do with me," the 52-year-old recalled to Variety in January 2019 as he was making the theater rounds with Madea on what was supposed to be a farewell tour for the gun-toting, hard-truth-telling grandma who—as channeled by Perry—has become nothing short of a folk hero, let alone an iconic character.
Alas, three years later, Madea's signature brand of medicine is still needed as much as ever.
"So much is going on in the world, you know, the pandemic, politics, division everywhere," Perry explained to E!'s Francesca Amiker on Daily Pop Feb. 21. "I just wanted to do something to make people laugh."
And Netflix was happy to help.
Perry's first to acknowledge just how far he's come since the early '00s, when he was taking meetings about turning his play Diary of a Mad Black Woman into a movie and one studio exec after another said, "'Nope, we don't want this,'" he recalled to Variety.
"This is the one that got me: a white man at one of the big studios sat behind his desk and said to me, 'Black people who go to church don't go to movies, so this will never work.' That was a moment for me. Because I'm seeing thousands of people all over the country come out for these shows."
Since then, he's been busy proving guys like that wrong at every turn. An underserved audience, after all, is an audience in need of something to watch.
So, Tyler Perry started making movies and TV with Black audiences in mind, and he's got the box office numbers, the ratings, the awards and, yes, the money to show for it.
Now, "They just call, which is great," he said.
And when he calls, you can bet people pick up.
In honor of the return of his most famous creation in Tyler Perry's A Madea Homecoming on Feb. 25, here are 50 utterly fascinating things to know about the once homeless, struggling kid who became one of Hollywood's biggest game-changers:
Enter Tyler Perry's A Madea Homecoming, premiering Friday, Feb. 25, on Netflix, Madea's 12th film appearance and Perry's first movie to go straight to streaming.
"Don't come to this movie looking to be spiritually moved," Perry advised on Daily Pop. "Just come, laugh yourself happy. That's what it's all about."
And you won't be hearing any more of that retirement talk from him or Madea.
(An earlier version of this article was published Sept. 13, 2019, at 9:01 a.m. PT)