Power Players

Tyler Perry on how he hires: 'I'm always looking for the underdog'

Director, producer and actor Tyler Perry attends Build Series to discuss the film 'Acrimony' at Build Studio on March 26, 2018 in New York City
Desiree Navarro | WireImage | Getty Images

Tyler Perry went from living in his car on the streets of Atlanta to becoming one of Hollywood's most successful producers. He is the first African American to own outright a major production studio (Tyler Perry Studios) — he had no investments from a partner or a corporation.

Perry says he was often ignored by Hollywood during his rise to success, so now when he hires someone, he doesn't focus on their resume, he looks for someone like himself — someone with drive.

"There've been many times that people will come in and audition and they weren't the best talent but they had a hunger and a zeal to get it right, to do it. And that hunger, what I found nine times out of 10, that hunger is enough to catapult them to greatness in what they're doing," Perry told LinkedIn's This is Working on Friday. "And I'm always looking for the underdog."

Perry, 50, says he looks for people like him, who "everybody counted out" and told them that they're not going to make it, and that mentality allows him to work with a diverse group of people.

"I'm working with people who have Ph.D.s and former inmates. We're all side by side doing what we need to do and I think it's very important to have that kind of experience," Perry says.

In fact, Perry recently made headlines in Atlanta when he offered Darrell Hall a job doing lawn care at Tyler Perry Studios. Hall was given a life sentence for two grams of cocaine in the early '90s, but was recently freed after the Atlanta District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit took up his case to have his unduly long sentence thrown out.

In addition to Perry's hiring mentality, he also has a philosophy about being the boss: Perry believes there is no job that he is above doing at his company, and that it's important to learn the responsibilities of every position he is hiring for.

"I think it's important to learn everyone's job so that you know who you're dealing with, how you're dealing with them and how to get the best out of them," he says.

Perry says he's never read a management book, but he as a child he watched how his dad treated his employees, and learned from what his dad did wrong.

"My father was the worst. He was a subcontractor and he was horrible to everybody who worked for him, including me, and I just did not want to be that guy," Perry said.

"I realized that there was a different way to reach each [person], and I just realized I had to be malleable in my training style, in my teaching style of whomever I'm speaking to, just be malleable in it enough to get us to a place where we're all pushing in the same direction."

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