Tyler Perry was honored for his humanitarian work yet again on Sunday. The celebrated media mogul was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Oscars, and Perry shared an inspirational message in his acceptance speech.
Viola Davis was tasked with presenting the award, and the celebrated actress introduced Perry by highlighting the many charitable efforts that earned Perry the prestigious honor.
“My great friend, filmmaker, and philanthropist, Tyler Perry, personifies empathy,” Davis shared. “Tyler knows what it is to be hungry, to be without a home, to feel unsafe and uncertain. So when he buys groceries for 1,000 of his neighbors, supports a women’s shelter, or quietly pays tuition for a hard-working student, Tyler is coming from a place of shared experience.”
The sweet introduction was accompanied by a short video package that featured Whoopi Goldberg, and Perry took the stage after to share a formative memory.
“When I set out to help someone, I’m not trying to do anything other than meet somebody at their humanity,” Perry said, before recalling an occasion, around 17 years ago, when he was walking to his car outside a studio and he came across a homeless women who asked if he might have any extra shoes to gift her.
Tyler Perry accepts Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award "I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian." pic.twitter.com/FjpTaYhKUu
“It stopped me cold, because I remember being homeless, and I had one pair of shoes, they were bent over at the heels. So I was like, ‘Yeah,'” Perry said, explaining how he took her into the studio and went to the production’s wardrobe department to find her a pair of shoes she could wear. “The whole time, she’s finally looking down. She finally looks up, and she has tears in her eyes.”
“She said, ‘Thank you, Jesus. My feet are off the ground,'” he continued. “In that moment, I just recall her saying to me, ‘I thought you would hate me for asking.’ I go, ‘How can I hate you, when I used to be you? How can I hate you when I had a mother who grew up in the Jim Crow south, in Louisiana?'”
Perry recalled how difficult her mother’s life had been living in frightening times, and she grew up to teach her son “to refuse hate and blanket judgment.”
Perry went on to decry hate in all its forms, and dedicated the award to “anyone who wants to meet me in the middle and refuse hate.”
This isn’t the first big award Perry has received recently. In September, he accepted the Governors Award at the 2020 Emmys, and later took home the People’s Champion award at the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards back in November.
Check out the video below for more on Perry’s humanitarian efforts during the pandemic over the past year.
Follow along at ETonline.com for all our Oscars live updates, including the Oscars winners list, updated as trophies are handed out.
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