In case you missed it this week, writer, director, producer and actor Tyler Perry has officially joined the list of billionaires out there, according to Forbes. His amassed wealth comes from his catalog of work being worth $320 million, cash and investments coming to $300 million, his acclaimed Tyler Perry studios worth $280 million, his stake in BET + at $60 million, and homes and “toys,” as in things like vehicles and PJs, at $40 million.
It’s a very big deal for anyone to reach billionaire status, but it’s especially major when you consider that Perry comes from very humble beginnings. People took to social media to applaud his success, but to also to share some criticisms of the work that helped him make such a great fortune; one of those people was writer Roxane Gay.
The Bad Feminist author said he’s a “pioneer in black ownership of IP and a studio” before also saying he’s a “pioneer in glorifying the degradation and demonization of black women, homophobia, and the lowest common denominator.”
Perry has received a great deal of criticism for his work, which people have said reinforces stereotypes and portrays Black women, and their mistakes, in a detrimental way. He recently caused a kerfuffle for sharing that he’s the chief and pretty much sole writer for all of his shows, including his BET hit about a group of complex Black women friends called Sistas. Nevertheless, Perry, and the many Black actors he employs, have always defended his work as showcasing the types of Black people who often don’t get to be seen on camera. He certainly has a large audience and fan base that appreciates it.
“It’s not about making money off of a woman’s pain — it is about telling a story,” he told the New York Post. “And I wish that people, especially black women, would get off the fact of saying, ‘Oh, he’s making money off of black women.”
“It is unfair for black people to say, ‘Carry my story in your story — show me in your story.’ And for people to say that they’re stereotypes of black people, that’s bullsh-t — it’s offensive,” he added. “These are real versions of us. And every one of us has the right to tell our own story.”
Still, the criticism, both the constructive and blunt, is ever present, but so is the love. Hit the flip to check out the opinions folks from Twitter, aside from Gay, had of the big news about Perry’s billions.
“Tyler Perry went from being homeless to being a billionaire. He made it from rags to riches despite the twin scourges of extreme poverty and white supremacy in our country as a black man,” said Twitter user @eugenegu. “Imagine how both hardships must feel as a human, yet still winning. That’s why he’s a hero.”
“I celebrate Tyler Perry for being a successful black man that paved a way for himself and built his own table to sit at,” said user @BrianMcLight. “However, I don’t celebrate mediocrity. I truly believe he panders lackluster, stereotypical, content to our community for profit & that, I cannot get with it.”
“I’m not a Tyler Perry fan but watching him go from homelessness to now being listed by Forbes as a billionaire, is why America is still the greatest country for financial success,” said Twitter user @GolferGirl305, giving Perry props for his accomplishment. “If you can’t make it here, you won’t make it anywhere.”
“The fact that Tyler Perry is a billionaire yet let those women walk around in his movie with those wigs? Capitalism does not breed innovation, I am so sorry.”
That was the opinion of Twitter user @sheabutterfemme who still hasn’t forgiven the Hollywood mogul for the wigs worn in his Netflix hit, A Fall from Grace.
“Y’all sit up here and tweet and laugh at toxic sh-t all day but mad at Tyler Perry for making money off it,” said user @B_REInvest, who was not here for the critiques about Perry’s work. “Go hop yo a– in a dress and become a billionaire too or shut up.”
“Tyler Perry became a billionaire out of producing movies that glorify the suffering of black women,” said user @DonCorleAnn. “His next movie will probably feature a black woman who cheated on her saintly light skinned mechanic husband and caught Covid-19 from the Rich dark skinned man. And she will die.”
“You can write a million thinkpieces and 30 tweet threads on why Tyler Perry has no growth and blah blah blah,” said user @Myrtle_Urkle, who noted that Perry’s success is due to the people who support his work. “the folks that faithfully watch his plays, shows, and movies don’t give a sh-t.”
“The fact that this man has all that money and the largest film production studio in the nation yet manages to produce the most low-budget, nonsensical, anti-black sh-t will always piss me off,” said Twitter user @laurrrelyse. She didn’t hold back when sharing her thoughts on the news of Perry’s shiny new billionaire status.
“From homeless on a bench and in his whip writing plays to a single night gown and a wig… that man reached a billion dollars and owning a black film company/studio! You love to see it!” said Twitter user @Yae_ftf. “Congrats to that man Tyler Perry that’s how you make a plan and stick to it!!!!”
“Tyler Perry became a billionaire by being an anti-union cheapskate who was the only writer, director, & producer for often poorly written, directed, & produced films/TV that ‘succeeded’ because they recycled the same types stereotypes of Black people,” said journalist Ernest Owens, who was not here for the celebration.