The Truth About Tyler Perry's Girlfriend

Despite being one very successful man in showbiz, Tyler Perry is a fairly reserved man. Sure, we can recount some of his impressive accolades: He is an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director, creator of beloved character Madea, philanthropist, an awarded innovator, and a self-made near-billionaire. However, one thing he likes to keep his lips sealed about is his love life.

Fans were surprised, then, when Perry opened up about his longtime girlfriend Gelila Bekele to Tip "T.I." Harris in early 2020. On T.I.'s expediTIously podcast, Perry was asked if he sees himself settling down with someone he can share his fortune with. "I have someone who's wonderful and she's getting her share of all of it," he readily replied (per Showbiz CheatSheet).

While Perry does not often mention his leading lady, he has touched on the subject of marriage in the past. "I'm not so sure, with this kind of work ethic, what kind of husband I will be," Perry told Jay Leno who asked about his plans on marriage and having kids (per Huffington Post). "I don't know about marriage as much as I do know that I'd be a great father," Perry said.

Since then, Perry has welcomed a son, Amman Tyler Perry, into the world with Bekele. Like her partner, Bekele is a talented force in the entertainment industry and uses her platform to fight for what she believes in. Here is the truth about Tyler Perry's girlfriend.

Gelila Bekele did not plan to become a model

Gelila Bekele had a humble upbringing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was raised by her grandma. In an interview with The Catwalk, Bekele said she had a "very free" childhood where she climbed trees and drank goat milk straight from the goat. "It was very rural until I was about four and then moved to the city," she said. Her family then moved to Europe when she was eight, she revealed in a video interview.

Upon high school graduation, Bekele moved to California to study at UC Berkeley, where she was randomly discovered by an advertising art director. She eventually dropped out of college, signed with Ford Models, and hit the runways of New York and Europe. "Modeling is a wonderful gate through which to see the world," Bekele told celebrity booking agency AAE. "It has provided me with so many opportunities." Now, Bekele has used her platform as a worldwide model to shift her focus onto filmmaking and passion projects.

Gelila Bekele is a philanthropist

Gelila Bekele has made use of her platform to spread her passion about humanitarian and activist work among her followers. "I have a duty to people on the other side of the world who often have no access to clean water," she told AAE. 

Bekele has been a vocal supporter with the organization Charity: Water, founded by photographer and entrepreneur Scott Harrison, since 2008. The non-profit organization helps secure safe and clean water sources for communities in developing countries. According to its website, Charity: Water has helped fund nearly 60,000 water projects across 29 countries since 2006. Bekele is also part of A Glimmer of Hope, which strives to give Ethiopians the basic necessities of life.

The model and activist often takes to her social media accounts to spread awareness about issues close to her heart such as the coronavirus pandemic and diseases that affect the world's poorest people.

"Life is a perspective, but for me, if a child, a human being, has basic access to clean water, food and school and proper health care, if you can, it's one of those situations where you are not creating for people to wait for foreign aid," Bekele told Tadias magazine in talking about her beliefs on human rights. She is also passionate about girls' and women's rights, according to her website.

Gelila Bekele and Tyler Perry have a strong bond

Fans got a sweet glimpse into Gelila Bekele and Tyler Perry's relationship when Perry opened up about their romance to People in 2017. "There's no other person on this planet that I would want to be involved with or have a child with because she's amazing." At the time, their son, Amman Tyler Perry, was a toddler.

Perry also shared the nonchalant way he found out Bekele was pregnant. "I get a FaceTime call and she's holding up the pregnancy stick," he recalled. "I'm like, 'I guess this is happening.'" Amman was born in 2014, and the public has not seen much of him. Perry told T.I.'s expediTIously podcast that he and Bekele want to protect their son and make sure "he's clear about who he is before people start telling him who he is."

In terms of parenting her son, Bekele said it's a learning process. "I love our tradition and I love our country, but it can be very silencing to children because it's like, 'I'm the adult and I know everything,'" she said of Ethiopia to The Catwalk. "I have to kind of do the opposite at times because I think my son teaches me who he is and even from discipline I see what works and what doesn't, and just what he needs."

Even with their demanding careers and parenting a young child, it seems that Perry and Bekele have it all figured out.