Tyler Perry Shares How Rejection From Lenders Led Him To Do Good For Others — ‘I Was Able To Get To A Place Where I Didn’t Need Credit’

Failure was never an option for filmmaker Tyler Perry.

In conversation with Soledad O’Brien during a fireside chat hosted by QuickBooks and Mailchimp, Perry emphasized the importance of not frowning upon small beginnings. In his early days as a hungry creative in Atlanta, GA, he was homeless and living in his car, as AFROTECH mentioned previously. 

However, Perry never lost faith, and he credits hope as his constant driver toward success.

“What I would say to anyone if it is your dream and it is your hope, it is that thing that you wake up with, and you go to bed with it, and you can’t shake it no matter what, that’s something that’s bigger than you… I was homeless,” Perry explained to O’Brien.

He continued, “My mother said, ‘Leave them plays alone’…You ain’t never going make it.’ And this woman loved me with all of her heart, but she knew how difficult it was for me. But if it is your dream and that thing wakes you up and keeps reminding you, do not stop, don’t stop. I’m sitting here as a living witness that if I had stopped, there would be so many people’s lives who would’ve been affected because I gave up.”

For Perry, he had to rely on personal funds to pursue his passion projects. This obstacle is similar for many Black business owners. In fact, 85% of that demographic in the United States have used their funds to cover business expenses over the last 12 months, according to a survey released by QuickBooks.

Perry recalls obtaining a Sears credit card, with an initial $300 credit line that later increased by $150, but he still could not pay it. Yet, that would not steer him away from his vision to create.

“I didn’t know another way. I didn’t come from the moment of, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go to the bank and get a loan.’ My credit…they were like, ‘Really? You want a loan? Yeah. Right. I won’t even loan you this piece of paper.’ For me, I knew that it was important to invest in myself as an actor [and] as a director. I didn’t think anybody would ever give me a shot. I didn’t look like anybody in Hollywood. My goals were very different. So I had to do it my own way,” Perry shared with the broadcaster.

According to Forbes, Carving his blueprint has paid off for Perry, who is now a billionaire. He went from being rejected by banks and unable to pay off his credit card debt to now seeing himself as a lender. 

“I don’t care how small you may think it is, when you help somebody that shows up in your life, every bit of good that you send out shows up in your life. I believe you reap what you sow. So, if you have a .10 to help somebody, even though you only have the .10, if you can give them .05, do it,” Perry mentioned. “Those are the things that I did, and I saw that just kept coming into my life over and over and over again until I was able to get to a place where I didn’t need credit. I became the lender.”

Perry also encouraged business owners during the panel by sharing how he overcame his financial hardships. He says his most challenging period in business was between 1992 to 1997. The actor continued to reinvest in his business and pay his cast even when shows were not earning revenue.

By 1998, Perry says his financial situation started to improve, earning $100,000 in yearly revenue, which scaled to $700,000 in 1999 and then reached $7 million by 2000.

Perry, who never went to business school, admits to a lack of financial literacy during this time, which would impact his taxes and put him behind for a few years.

Knowing this led him to transition from having his sister assist with taxes to hiring accountants.

“I didn’t put a dime away for taxes, so I hired some accounting people to help me because I knew I had to transition from my sister,” said Perry during the fireside chat.

He added, “Had I gone to business school or had I even taken an accounting class, I would have been able to handle it.”

As AFROTECH previously mentioned, Perry hired accountants for audits to ensure his financial statements complied with the IRS. Perry was paying $300,000 yearly to his accountants. Once the audit was complete, it revealed the IRS owed Perry $9 million.

“All of my accountants were like, ‘This is so great. They owe you $9 million.’ No, it’s not. You’re all fired. How did you let me overpay this amount of money?” Perry recalled. “So, that’s when I realized the importance of it. Right now, I have PricewaterhouseCoopers, I have a family office, and when I tell you, they are all on top of all of it. It’s very important. It took me a minute to get there.”

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