Tyler Perry, winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, poses in the press room during the 93rd Annual Academy Awards. (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
Tyler Perry urged the world to “refuse hate” and strive to uplift minority groups – LGBT+ folk included – in a powerful Oscars acceptance speech Sunday night (26 April).
The 51-year-old mogul picked up the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, a special achievement honour that recognises notable philanthropy.
The filmmaker has paid for senior citizens’ groceries, supported the families of Black folk killed by police and founded a film studio that included an LGBT+ homeless shelter.
During his rousing and heartfelt acceptance speech at the 93rd Academy Awards, Perry sought to soothe a rattled world by calling on people to no longer hate one another – especially those long cast to the margins.
“My mother taught me to refuse hate,” he began, “she taught me to refuse blanket judgment.
“And in this time, and with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle, it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids – just refuse hate.
“Don’t hate anybody.
“I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LGBT+. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer.
“I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refuse hate.”
Perry, known for his mandate film series, dedicated the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to “anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the walls.
“Stand in the middle,” he continued, “because that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens.
“It happens in the middle.
“So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you, too.”
During his Oscars address, Perry, who soared from his humble beginnings in New Orleans to become one of America’s top Black entrepreneurs, told a brief story about the time he encountered a homeless woman while working.
“I’m about to give her money,” he recalled, “she says: ‘Sir, do you have any shoes?’
“It stopped me cold. I remember being homeless, and I had one pair of shoes, they were bent over at the heels.
“We go to wardrobe, and there were all these boxes, fabrics, racks of clothes. We had to stand in the middle of the floor.
“As we were standing there, we found some shoes, she’s looking down.
“She finally looks up, she has tears in her eyes. She said: ‘Thank you, Jesus. My feet are off the ground’.”