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Tyler Perry talks about his latest relationship drama “Good Deeds”

Kam Williams | 2/22/2012, 7:16 a.m.

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Tyler Perry talks about his latest relationship drama “Good Deeds”

Tyler Perry’s inspirational journey from the hard streets of New Orleans to the heights of Hollywood’s A-list is the stuff of American legend.

Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Perry fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and TV shows.

It was a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey that set Perry’s career in motion. Encouraged to keep a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences, he began writing a series of soul-searching letters to himself. The letters, full of pain and, in time, forgiveness, became a healing catharsis.

His writing inspired a musical, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” and in 1992 Perry gathered his life’s savings and set off for Atlanta in hopes of staging it for sold-out crowds.

He spent all the money, but the people never came and Perry once again came face to face with the poverty that had plagued his youth.

He spent months sleeping in seedy motels and in his car but his faith — in God and, in turn, himself — only grew stronger. He forged a powerful relationship with the church, and kept writing.

In 1998, his perseverance paid off and a promoter booked “I Know I’ve Been Changed” for a limited run at a local church-turned-theater. This time, the community came out in droves and soon the musical moved to Atlanta’s prestigious Fox Theatre.

Since then, Perry has never looked back.

Thus began an incredible run of 13 plays in as many years, including “Woman Thou Art Loosed!” a celebrated collaboration with the prominent Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes. In 2000, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” marked the first appearance of the now-legendary Madea, a God-fearing, gun-toting, pot-smoking, loud-mouthed grandmother played by Perry himself.

Madea was such a resounding success, she soon spawned a series of plays — “Madea’s Family Reunion” in 2002, “Madea’s Class Reunion” in 2003 and “Madea Goes to Jail” in 2005 — and set the stage for Perry’s jump to the big screen. In early 2005, Perry’s first feature film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” debuted at no. 1 nationwide.

His ensuing films, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Why Did I Get Married,” “Meet the Browns,” “The Family That Preys,” “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and “Why Did I Get Married, Too?” have all met with both critical acclaim and commercial success.

Perry’s first book, “Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea’s Uninhibited Commentaries on Life and Love” shot to the top of the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list in 2006 and remained there for eight weeks.

The following year, Perry expanded his reach to television with the TBS series “House of Payne,” the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time. His next TV sitcom, “Meet the Browns,” was the second highest debut ever on cable — after “House of Payne.”