raised in New Orleans, to Willie Maxine (Campbell) and Emmitt Perry, Sr.
His mother was a church-goer and took Perry along with her once a week.
His father was a carpenter and they had a very strained and abusive
relationship, which led Perry to suffer from depression as a teenager.
when he saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) discussing the
therapeutic nature of writing. This inspired him to begin writing and he
worked through his bad experiences by writing letters to himself. He
adapted his letters into a play, “I Know I’ve Changed”, about domestic
abuse. Unfortunately, after renting a theater in Atlanta to put on the
play, he failed to attract audiences.
found himself living in his car. But, in 1998, he was given a second
chance to stage his play and, this time, he was more business-savvy with
his marketing. The play was sold-out and drew attention from investors.
plays since he was 18. As of March 2005, his eight plays have grossed
over US$75 million in tickets and DVD sales.
successful film-maker with Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), he was
already the owner of a successful play company that tours the country
and caters to African-Americans. His plays are also recorded and sold as
reference The Color Purple (1985), which starred Oprah Winfrey. He
credits The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) with inspiring him to write.
performing as the Madea character, a tough elderly black woman. Perry
also creates films, some produced as live recordings of stage plays, and
others professionally filmed using full sets and locations with full
editing. Perry is estimated to have earned around US$75 million by
2008. Many of Perry’s stage-play films have been subsequently adapted as
a show that ran for eight seasons on TBS from June 21, 2006, to August
10, 2012. On October 2, 2012, Perry struck an exclusive multi-year
partnership with Oprah Winfrey and her Oprah Winfrey Network. The
partnership was largely for the purposes of bringing scripted television
to the OWN network, Perry having had previous success in this
department. Perry has created multiple scripted series for the network,
the most successful being The Haves and the Have Nots. As of 2014, The Haves and the Have Nots
has given OWN its highest ratings to date. The series has also been
referred to as being “one of OWN’s biggest success stories with its
weekly dose of soapy fun, filled with the typical betrayals, affairs,