Things have certainly changed.
Raised in poverty in New Orleans, Perry dropped out of high school and went through a period of homelessness as he struggled as a playwright.
Those plays turned him into a star and launched a career that would eventually lead him to become a media mogul and first African American to independently own a studio.
“Ownership changes everything,” he told Forbes.
One of the things it changed is his bank account.
According to Forbes, Perry $30 million for the studio property in Atlanta in 2015 and spent $250 million building the studio operation there.
He relishes being a Black man with a studio on the grounds of Fort McPherson, which had been a Confederate military stronghold.
That studio is also helping to increase his wealth.
“I own the lights. I own the sets,” he told Forbes. “So that’s where the difference is. Because I own everything, my returns are higher.”