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"Today, Rudy Ray Moore would be Tyler Perry," Murphy told IndieWire. "On the surface, [Perry] looks like he just popped up, but he was making these plays and doing Madea all around, so he had a grassroots following. That's what Rudy did when he went, "Hey, I got this thing, I know what's good, I believe in it and I'm going to go and work and sell it out of my trunk and get it going." Your belief and your volition gets you whatever you want. He doesn't have any of this stuff that's supposed to make you. He's got a pot belly, and he's not a good-looking guy. He's got nothing and his stuff is super crude. And he went and got his act from homeless people in the alley."
Like Moore, Perry had been struggling to achieve success as a playwright early in his career. The now-mogul famously lived in his car not far from where his recently expanded movie studio sits today.
"I had just moved to Atlanta to try to launch this play, so I went to work," he said during a 2016 Tuskegee University commencement address. "I managed to save $12,000 and I put the show up working in used car, as a bill collector (proceeds from a tax return). I thought 1,200 people would show up that weekend but only 30 showed up. My car payment, rent, everything was tied up in it so I ended up homeless with no money and nothing to my name."
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But Perry continued to put on one play a year from 1992 to 1998 — and he was about to give up that year. But after hearing about the impact his plays had on audiences, his focus changed.
“My intention became, how do I serve other people? How do I lift other people?” he said.
Perry's plays, which featured the Louisiana-born matriarch Madea, soon spawned films that starred the beloved tough woman-of-a-certain-age. The flicks have amassed $523.52 million at the domestic box office following the May 2019 release of "Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral." It's the final film to feature Madea, who was inspired by his mother.