Actor, director, and comedian Tyler Perry is hosting a tribute special for Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin airing tonight on CBS at 9 p.m. Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul will feature performances by Grammy winners and nominees, old and new, including Alessia Cara, Kelly Clarkson, Common, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Patti LaBelle, BeBe Winans, Chloe X Halle, H.E.R., Janelle Monáe, SZA, and more.
The concert was recorded on January 13, 2019 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The Madea mastermind Perry hosted the A-list event that viewers will now get to witness from the comfort of their couches as the industry celebrates a legend by performing her biggest hits including “Respect,” “Think,” and “Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel).”
Ahead of tonight’s televised concert, here’s everything you need to know about host Tyler Perry.
1. Perry Has a Net Worth of $600 Million
Perry has an exhausting amount of titles to his name. He’s a screenwriter, playwright, film producer, television producer, actor, film director, theatre director, television director, author, and songwriter…all of which lend credence to the man’s wowing $600 million net worth.
With all of his day jobs combined, the multi-talented media mogul earns $100-150 million a year and is one of the most financially successful directors in the biz today. As of December 2013, Tyler Perry is the only filmmaker in history to have five films open at number one at the box office in the last five years.
2. Perry’s Films Rack Up Some Serious Box Office Numbers
Tyler’s films typically target black audiences and include subtle messages rooted in Christianity. Since he writes, directs, and produces all of his movies himself, he’s able to bank way more of the profits for himself. His films have a lifetime gross of $976,352,767 million, with each film costing a modest (by comparison) $20 million or less to make.
3. Perry’s Venture in High-Valued Real Estate
Perry once owned a 17-acre estate located outside of Atlanta. The property was the former Dean Gardens in Johns Creek, Ga. which he picked up for $7.6 million, a steal since the property was formerly listed as high as $40 million. He then relisted the home in 2015 with a $25 million price tag. The property has beautiful views running alongside the Chattahoochee River and a golf course on premise. Other notables include 34,688 square feet, seven bedrooms, and 11.5 bathrooms.
At the time, Perry planned to build himself a new mansion on a 1,000-plus-acre lot west of Atlanta, close to Georgia’s Six Flags amusement park. He also owned a custom-built traditional mansion that had approximately 22,000 square feet of living space on a 22-acre lot, located in a gated enclave above Beverly Hills’ Coldwater Canyon. He also bought and flipped a glass-walled contemporary in the mountains between Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks, Calif. for $15.6 million to producer and singer Pharrell. In sum: Perry’s real estate game is strong and we can barely keep up.
4. Perry’s Feud With Spike Lee
For all the positivity and light-hearted comedy Perry has put into the world, there’s one famous director who’s simply not a fan: BlackKklansman‘s Spike Lee. The Oscar-winning director had at one time called Perry’s work “coonery” and “buffoonery,” and Perry lost his patience with Lee’s ill-intentioned words.
While speaking at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference in 2009, Lee said, “I think there’s a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I see ads for Meet the Browns and House of Payne and I’m scratching my head. The image is troubling and it harkens back to Amos ‘n’ Andy.
All these characters are bait – disarming, charming, make you laugh bait. I can slap Madea on something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those.”
Perry’s initial response was diplomatic: “It’s attitudes like [Lee’s] that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist and that’s why there’s no material speaking to them.”
But then Perry had another take on the situation and had this to say about Lee: “I’m so sick of hearing about damn Spike Lee. Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that. I am sick of him talking about me, I am sick of him saying, ‘this is a coon, this is a buffoon.’ I am sick of him talking about black people going to see movies. This is what he said: ‘you vote by what you see,’ as if black people don’t know what they want to see.”
As of 2013, the two directors seem to have squashed their beef. Lee told Oprah after a visit to Perry’s home, “No we’re cool, we’re mad cool now,” says Lee. “He’s trying to make it that our differences are based on a social, economic level. He’s trying to say it’s because he’s from the South and I’m from the North.”
5. Perry’s Success Is the Light at the End of a Dark Tunnel…His Childhood
Perry grew up in New Orleans, La. and faced an incredibly difficult childhood. He’s been very public about his father’s methods, whose “answer to everything was to beat it out of you.” When he turned 16, Perry legally changed his name from Emmitt Perry Jr. to Tyler in order to distance himself from his dad.
Though his relationship with his father was non-existent, Perry was incredibly close to his mother, Willie Maxine, who brought him to church every week and helped shape his view on the world. His mom, the woman whom he based his Madea character on, sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 64. Despite their close bond, Perry found out later in life that she had lied to him about his real biological father. Perry has said he always suspected Perry, Sr. wasn’t his real dad because of the abuse he inflicted on him, reported Essence.
Despite not graduating high school, Perry earned his GED and used writing as a way to come to terms with his past. His therapeutic writing helped him through his early twenties and resulted in his first play, I Know I’ve Been Changed, which focused on issues like child abuse, rape, and how a strong belief in God can overcome all.
Perry has said that he started writing after being inspired by Oprah. “I was watching the Oprah show one day and she said that it’s cathartic to write things down, so I started writing down the stuff that was happening to me,” he told Ebony magazine. “I started using different characters’ names, because if someone had found my journal, I didn’t want them to know I had been through that kind of stuff. That’s how my first play started, which features a character who confronts an abuser, forgives him and moves on.”