*Tyler Perry revealed in a new interview that he financially supported late actress Cicely Tyson and once paid her $1 million for one day of work.
“I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life,” Perry tells AARP The Magazine. “She was a proud woman, and the only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book. This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn’t well compensated for it. She made $6,000 for Sounder, you know? I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her.”
He continues, “So, she did one day of work on my 2007 film Why Did I Get Married? I paid her a million dollars. I loved working with her. And it makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years.”
At the time of her death at the age of 96 in 2021, Perry posted an emotional tribute to her online.
“She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy,” he wrote in part.
“She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”
Perry recently spoke to Gayle King about his legacy and his hope that his film studio in Atlanta impacts future generations of content creators, NBC News reports. We reported earlier that the 330-acre entertainment complex – which used to be a military facility named Fort McPherson -is the only major film studio in the nation owned by a Black American. Fort McPherson is a deactivated Army base built by slaves.
“To have me be the owner of that very land that people were plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million Negros enslaved on, be owned by one Black man,” Perry said, “I think about those people — the ancestors — and what they must think if they could know that. Like, what would that feel like?”
PEOPLE reports that the payroll for his studio equated to $154 million last year.
“I was really moved by that number,” he told the outlet, “and understanding with the strength of my audience in all of these years of investing, I am able to write those checks to that many people, many of them, women and people of color. It’s moving to me. It motivates me and it keeps me grounded and keeps me going, because I realize how many dreams have been tied up into mine.”