Congrats Tyler Perry – but now what?
We should always celebrate wins in the black community. Especially when it’s someone like Tyler Perry, who went from being homeless to joining the Forbes list of billionaires and wealthiest people on Earth.
But, what does that mean for the rest of us?
2020 was a year of promoting black businesses and talk about reparations and access to generational wealth among Black people.
The danger, though, is that if we promote this without talking about the real challenge it is to achieve this goal, we’re setting up a lot of people for hurt, disappointment, and frankly, failure.
So, who is Tyler Perry, and how did he get this wealthy?
Long story short, Tyler Perry is a high school dropout, who grew up in an abusive home, became homeless and poor from starting his own theatre production company, then eventually rose to become one of the most recognizable movie producers of all time.
After writing his first play in 1992, you can say Perry hit the jackpot in 1999 when his play Woman, Thou Art Loosed made over $5 million USD in just five months (according to Britannica.com).
Even after that success, it would take another 21 years – and 28 in total, for Perry’s net worth to reach $1 billion USD.
Tyler Perry is one of the select – AND I MEAN VERY FEW – people of Black or African descent who are billionaires in U.S. dollars.
How does his success compare to the rest of the world’s billionaires, and what should this tell us about preaching aspirational generational wealth to the black diaspora?
So this chart pretty much sums up the racial wealth gap.
The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, who started out selling only books on Amazon.com when the Internet was just becoming available to ordinary people, became a billionaire in just FOUR YEARS.
And his net worth is literally 190x greater than Tyler Perry’s.
If we look at Warren Buffett, who I’d consider the epitome of “old money”, and who’s the fifth wealthiest person alive, it took him considerably longer to become a billionaire.
Specifically, 36 years.
However, his net worth is still approximately 84x greater than Tyler Perry, who took 8 fewer years to get to billionaire status.
But you might say, hey, it’s not fair to compare those people to Perry, because certain industries allow people to earn far greater margins and accumulate wealth a lot faster.
Probably the most comparable person to Tyler Perry is Oprah Winfrey, who is also black, also grew up in poverty and an abusive household, and rose to fame and fortune through a media-based company.
Oprah Winfrey started out as a television host, and her company Harpo Productions now includes assets like Tyler Perry-produced sitcoms and reality/docu-series type shows.
Oprah started her company in 1988, and officially became a billionaire in 2004, 24 years later. As of today, her net worth is only 2.5x that of Tyler Perry’s.
You could say Oprah had a more difficult time earning her wealth, due to the double whammy of being black AND a woman.
Compare her time and effort into building generational wealth to Laurene Powell Jobs who, yes, was a successful businesswoman herself before marrying the late, infamous Steve Jobs but essentially earned her way passively into billionaire status when she inherited her wealth from Steve Jobs’s estate.
Sorry if I’m crushing every dream you’ve had to become the next self-made millionaire or billionaire. That’s not what I’m trying to do.
What I am trying to do is position this conversation about black excellence and generational wealth in a more realistic context so that any of you hoping to achieve some form of financial success can plan for it PROPERLY.
Don’t go crazy or broke trying to keep up with the Perry’s or the Winfrey’s because everyone around you is screaming BLACK EXCELLENCE and seems like they’re starting so many LLCs in just the past 6 months.
Part of my goal with my Investing Series is to educate our community – both in the diaspora and in Africa – about setting up SMART financial goals that may not get you to billionaire status BUT AT LEAST will make sure financial stability isn’t your struggle, or your children’s struggle, or their children’s struggle…you get it.
So hit the “LIKE” button on the video at the top of the page if you want to join me on that journey, then subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the notification bell so that you get alerts when the next video is uploaded for you to watch FOR FREE and get real about your journey to financial stability.