Top Picks: Tyler Perry

Actor, director and writer Tyler Perry turns 50 September 13. While the New Orleans native is well-known for his portrayal of Mabel Simmons (aka "Madea"), his path to success was wrought with adversity. Perry got his start as a playwright whose first stage production flopped, but you wouldn't guess it now. In honor of his big birthday, let's take a look at some of his best work. 


Perry's debut, Diary of A Mad Black Woman, was also the first in his Madea franchise. Many of his movies started as plays, and the play version of Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family even toured the country before the movie came out.  

In 2010, he adapted Ntozake Shange's choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, When the Rainbow Is Enuf for the screen as For Colored Girls. If the fact that it's based on such an iconic and acclaimed work doesn't grab you, the star-studded ensemble cast, including Whoopi Goldberg and Thandie Newton, will.

If romantic comedy is more your style, try Meet the Browns. Set in Chicago, it features Angela Bassett as a struggling-but-strong single mother who just might find her happily-ever-after.

Perry also works in TV, creating sitcoms for Oprah Winfrey's network. His biggest success for OWN is based on his movie The Haves and the Have Nots.


In the bestselling Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, Perry writes as Madea. Publishers Weekly described it as "a surprisingly fresh compilation of homespun advice." In his inspirational memoir Higher Is Waiting, Perry shares how his faith has guided him, from his abusive childhood to the life he leads today.