Tyler Perry has won this year’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars, and he’s used his time in the spotlight to talk about the importance of refusing hate.
In a powerful acceptance speech, the 51-year-old filmmaker and philanthropist reflected on how much he has learnt from his mother who grew up in a segregated community in Mississippi:
“She taught me to refuse hate and blanket judgment.”
“In this time, with all of the internet and social media and algorithms that want us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle, it’s my hope that we teach our kids, refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody,” he said.
“I refuse to hate someone because they’re Mexican or because they are black or white or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they’re a police officer or because they’re Asian. I would hope we would refuse hate. And I want to take this humanitarian award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle. Because that’s where healing, where conversation, where change happens. It happens in the middle. Anyone who wants to meet me in the middle to refuse hate and blanket judgment, this one is for you, too.”
He also spoke about meeting a homeless woman 17 years ago, when he was a rising star and how it taught him to withhold judgment:
“I’m about to give her money. 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.”
Tyler has been constantly using his power and platform to help others, including paying for seniors’ groceries, financially assisting the families of Black people killed by police and creating Camp Quarantine, a production studio which has allowed creatives to continue working during the pandemic.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is periodically given out by the Academy to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.” Past winners include actress, director and media gender diversity advocate Geena Davis, refugee advocate and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and media queen and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.
You can read the full list of this year’s Oscar winners HERE.
(Feature Image Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com)