For sure, Tyler Perry is no stranger to hard work. Consider the breakneck pace at which he was running back in late spring: The playwright turned wunderkind film director would arrive at his Atlanta production studio between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., run through lines and direct the cast of his TV show, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and then, by 11:30 a.m., hop into his car and take a 15-minute drive to the set of his latest movie. There, he’d put his star Janet Jackson through her paces until well after the moon made its slow dance across the warm Georgia sky. Between all of that, he’d work the hell out of his cell phone, overseeing the production of his next TV show, Meet the Browns, supervising the finishing touches on his new 70,000-square-foot studio, and conducting endless interviews for his unprecedented 100-episode, multimillion-dollar deal with the TBS cable network. Does sleep figure into the equation? Not so much. Perry is his own army of one, doing more before noon than most people do all day.

Tyler on becoming the beloved celebrity next door:

Perry, ever humble, does acknowledge that he’s become the beloved celebrity next door. “I’m just one of us,” he says. “I come from a real place, and I come from the realness in my heart. People can connect to what they know, and I feel like people think they know me and I feel like I know them.”

Perry on groupies:

“I’ve got a friend in the NFL and another in the NBA, and when we go places, all the young, hot, aggressive women are all on them, while all my fans are sweet, little old ladies, saying, ‘You should meet my daughter!'” Perry says, laughing.

Tyler on what he enjoys most in life:

In case you were wondering, this is the man Tyler Perry is: He loves chicken and never leaves home without his Amex, some cash and his mouth guard (he grinds his teeth when he’s stressed). The first thing he does in the morning? Pray. What makes him laugh the most, and worry the most too? “Black people,” he says. “Every time.” And as for the note-writing church ladies and the fence-scaling pursuer, you should know that Perry can’t stand it when a woman chases him. “It’s a total turnoff for me,” he says simply. “I’m a go-getter, a fighter, a provider, and I feel like I need to chase.”

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Photo Credit: Len Prince