How Freaknik contributed to Tyler Perry’s success

Freaknik, the once-legendary party for college students that ended amid outrage over its also legendary traffic jams, played a role in Tyler Perry’s journey from a poor kid from New Orleans to massively successful entertainment mogul.

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“I needed to know there was really a world of possibilities outside New Orleans,” he writes in “Higher Is Waiting,” to be released Tuesday. “That world opened up to me on my first visit to Atlanta during ‘Freaknik,’ a sort of spring break without the beach for black college kids. I wasn’t in college, but I went anyway.”

He didn’t go for some of the partying antics he witnessed – but the visit was inspiring nonetheless.

“While all the kids were getting numbed out, drinking and partying, I was waking up to possibility,” he wrote. “For the first time in my life, I saw there were black people doing great things with their lives. There were black doctors, lawyers, business owners … I knew Atlanta was the place for me.”

Read our interview with Perry, who appears Sunday at the Fox Theatre to launch “Higher Is Waiting,” on myAJC.

“Higher Is Waiting” will be released on Tuesday. Tyler Perry will appear live at the Fox Theatre on Sunday for a launch event.

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