The 93rd annual Academy Awards was held on Sunday, April 25th, 2020, and the event had many actors and actresses walking away with the prestigious Oscar trophy. Renowned filmmaker Tyler Perry had one of the most rousing acceptance speeches when he received an honorary Oscar award.
Actress Viola Davis introduced the billionaire director to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for feeding and helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 51-year old film mogul recollected the days he was homeless himself. He talked about how experiencing a similar situation motivated him to help others regardless of where they’re from or who they are. Perry mentioned how his mother taught him not to have hate in his heart nor pass blanket judgment on anyone.
Tyler Perry appealed to the global Oscars audience to shun hate and actively participate in uplifting people on the margins.
Perry’s humble beginning is an all-too-familiar story. His rise in Hollywood to building a thriving studio in Atlanta and recently attaining billionaire status are happy endings from a difficult past and upbringing. Tyler Perry picked up life lessons from his mother, who grew up under difficult conditions in Mississippi when civil rights violations were rife, like the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 and the bombings in Alabama in 1960 at the peak of the integration struggle.
“I learned from her not to accept hate and blanket judgment,” Tyler Perry said. “I hope we take measured steps to pass on similar lessons to our children, especially now that there are 24-hour news cycles, social media and algorithms designed to influence our thinking. Our children should learn to refuse hate and accept everybody,” Tyler said with an emotional voice. “It is not enough to hate anyone because they are black, white or Mexican or LGBTQ or even a police officer. I refuse to hate people for those reasons, and I hope everyone scoots the same philosophy. This award is dedicated to anyone who wants to stand in the middle because that’s where conversations that bring about change happen. Anyone who wants to join me in the middle to refuse hate and blanket judgment, this is for you, too,” he continues.
Tyler Perry has been in film and TV for more than two decades. His remarkable rise has made him one of the most successful Black filmmakers and entrepreneurs of all time who has played a role in bringing up many other Black film and television stars.
During his speech at the Oscars, Tyler Perry also states a story about a moment he experienced 17 years ago with a homeless woman. He was producing a project at the time, and a woman was outside the building being used for the location. He was about to give her money when she asked him for a pair of shoes instead.
Tyler says he was shocked because, at that moment, he remembered a time he had one pair of shoes while being homeless too. “So I walked with the woman to the wardrobe and checked out all the boxes, fabrics and clothes. We found some shoes for her, and immediately she looked up, her eyes welled up with tears and said, ” Thank you, Jesus. My feet are off the ground.”