Asked who his role models were when he got into show business, Perry said, “Hands down, Cosby and Oprah. Because we had the same color skin. It let me know that it was possible. I could look at Steven Spielberg, whom I admire, and I’m blown away by what he does, but at that time, I didn’t think I could be Steven Spielberg. That wasn’t an example that was set for me. But seeing someone with my same color skin make it, be successful, own their product, own their show and have their own path made me go, ‘OK, there’s something here, and you can do it, too.’”
To that end, he took Oprah’s advice when he built his own empire, even if she hadn’t been giving the advice specifically to him at the time.
“Sign your own checks. Watch your money,” he recalled her saying, adding, “But she wasn’t even talking to me then, it was an interview with Toni Braxton or someone.”
He also spoke on the issue of race in the entertainment industry, maintaining that the problem was less a matter of skin color and instead one of cold, hard cash.
“Listen, let me tell you something about what I know about Hollywood. I don’t think it’s black and white, I think it’s green. It’s just about, Where’s the money? How do we make the money? How do we make the business grow? It’s all about the money. So whatever’s making the money is where the respect is going to be,” he said.
You can check out the full interview here.