It was on this day in 1969 that comedian Tyler Perry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although now a million-dollar success story, life wasn’t always so funny for this moviemaker. As a young boy growing up in the South, the effects of poverty all around him, Perry began to use the written word as a means of escape. His first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” launched in Atlanta under the direction of its playwright, using the money he himself had collected. The show failed in its first weekend but had a resurgence years later and even went on to tour gospel theaters nationwide. The money began to flow and over the years Perry continued to write and perform his own stage shows, oftentimes in drag as the vibrant Southern woman known as Madea. In 2005 Madea hit the big screen in Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The feature cost just $5 million to make and went on to gross $50 million. Perry had a hit on his hands and continued his stride, writing several other movies featuring Madea, including Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) and the anticipated comedy Meet the Browns (slated for a 2008 release), both of which he directed.

Coming Attractions: Branching out from his hand-in-hand recognition with Madea, Tyler Perry wrote and directed the 2007 rom-com Daddy’s Little Girls and will next be releasing Why Did I Get Married? (2007), another screen adaptation of the writer’s stage performances.