Tyler Perry to receive humanitarian award at 2021 Oscars

By Zach Harper

Tyler Perry is known throughout Hollywood for giving back, and he's set to be honoured for that at this year's Oscars.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 51-year-old and the Motion Picture and Television Fund will both receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 93rd Academy Awards, which are scheduled to take place April 25. They've been moved back a few months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Tyler's culture influence extends far beyond his work as a filmmaker," Academy President David Rubin said in a statement. "He has quietly and steadily focused on humanitarian and social justice causes from the beginning of his career, caring for people who are most often ignored."

When the coronavirus pandemic forced studios to close in 2020, Tyler said his Tyler Perry Studios would stay open in a limited capacity. He also set up temporary housing on the lot for crew members and staff. Photo: © Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Tyler founded his Tyler Perry Studios in 2006, and is the first Black American man to exclusively own his studio. He founded the Tyler Perry Foundation that same year. It's supported organizations such as Feeding America and Covenant House, and has a huge focus on ensuring no American is homeless.

Tyler, who is from New Orleans, helped build a community for Hurricane Katrina survivors in the city. He's also contributed millions to disaster relief in Haiti, Texas and Puerto Rico to help those who were affected by the 2010 earthquakes, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Dorian.

Anti-racism is a big part of his philanthropic efforts. In 2009, he made the largest ever individual donation to the NAACP, contributing US$1 million as the organization turned 100 years old.

Tyler has also put his financial resources toward helping those in Atlanta and New Orleans during the coronavirus pandemic. Last April, he paid for elderly shoppers' groceries at dozens of Kroger stores in the cities.

It's this "wide spectrum of charitable and social justice causes" that the Academy says has "bene particularly impactful during the past year, addressing economic distress caused by the pandemic, racial reckoning and homelessness in his community."

This isn't the first time Tyler has been recognized this year. In September, he received the Governors Award at the Emmy Awards in honour of his achievements in film and television and for his philanthropy.

At the time, Tyler made a moving speech in which he shared a story about a quilt he received from his grandmother at age 19. He said he was embarrassed by it, until in an antique store, a worker told him a similar quilt had been made by a "woman who was a former slave and each patch in the Quilty she had put in represented a part of her life."

He went on to say the land on which Tyler Perry Studios stands – which was once the site of a Confederate Army base - now features people from all walks of life "working, coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best."

Congrats to Tyler!

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