Tyler Perry started his career in what’s known in the Black community as the chitlin circuit, and he’s not ashamed of it.
During a recent appearance on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” the millionaire filmmaker explained why he’s proud of his urban theater roots.
“I was on the road from 1998 to 2004 during 300-and-something performances year all over the country,” he said. “Before social media, I’m out at the end of my show saying, ‘Sign up for my mailing list. Sign up for my website’… I had a few million people following me on my website so I could send out an email and sell out theaters and arenas all over before we even advertised anything. That’s where it all started.”
“It’s been the people,” he continued. “Let me say this about this chitlin circuit: a lot of times us as African-American people have evolved so much that we look down our nose at certain things. But what I found out about this circuit is it was so wonderful…They had made me so famous within my own culture that I couldn’t walk down the street without being recognized. Get to Hollywood, nobody knows my name.”
He went on to advise up-and-comers to never despise their beginnings.
“Do not despise where you come from because God will plant you somewhere where you can grow so strong and so tall. As long as you don’t turn your back on who you are and where you come from, and you hold every closely to that, it will take you all the way to where you want to go,” he said.
Aside from his loyal African-American fan base, Perry said he come this far by faith.
“For me, the greatest gift my mother gave me is she taught me about the Lord. She gave me Jesus; she taught me about faith,” he said. “My mother endured some crazy things but I always saw here go to church and I always saw her smile. So whatever I am going through, I know I owe it to her to always have that. When things are great I have that. When things are not so great I have it.”
He added, “I attribute a lot of [my success] to going back to what my roots are and my faith.”
Perry’s latest film, A Madea Christmas, is in theaters this weekend!
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1. Tyler Perry 
At the "Madea's Big Happy Family" Premiere
2. Tyler Perry and Gilela Bekele
at the 2nd annual Steve Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani, Wall Street in NY (April 2011)
3. Tyler Perry 
Premiere of "For Colored Girls" at Ziegfeld in NYC (October 25)
4. Janet Jackson and Tyler Perry
5. "Why Did I Get Married Too" Premiere
6. Oprah and Tyler Perry
7. Tyler Perry 
He's an actor, writer, producer, oversees a multi-million dollar empire, and has come a long way from an abusive childhood.