U.S. filmmaker Tyler Perry will receive an honorary statuette at this year’s Oscars for his charitable work, including attempts to bring the entertainment industry back to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic, the Academy revealed Thursday. The Black Film Mogul has set up a 330-acre (133-hectare) campus development facility in the Confederate Military Base of the Civil War in Atlanta, Georgia, where hundreds have worked. At the same time, Covid-19 is winding down productions in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
Perry has advocated greater diversity in Hollywood, created hundreds of films and television. Shows were starring mostly African American actors and covering funeral expenses for police brutality victims, including George Floyd. “Tyler’s cultural influence extends far beyond his work as a filmmaker,” said David Rubin, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “He has quietly and steadily focused on humanitarian and social justice causes from the beginning of his career, caring for people who are most often ignored.” The 51-year-old Perry — a producer, actor, writer, and director — first achieved mainstream U.S. success with his outspoken grandmother character Madea in the 2005 movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” A string of Madea films followed, all with Perry in drag in the title character’s role. He has also appeared in movies including “Star Trek” (2009), “Gone Girl” (2014), and “Vice” (2018).
His plays, T.V. Shows and plays have since made him a household name in the U.S., particularly among African Americans, and he became a billionaire last year, according to Forbes—but he remains largely unknown abroad. Perry was celebrated separately at the Emmys TV, which took place practically in September. The Academy has been awarding the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for several years since 1957. Last went to Geena Davis star “Thelma & Louise” to encourage gender equality in the media. Such past winners included Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, and Elizabeth Taylor.
The award was announced at the Academy’s separate Governors Awards show in previous years, held in Los Angeles before the Oscars. The case, however, was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Perry will receive his award at the 93rd Oscars, set for April 25, which will also see the second Jean Hersholt Award to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
The MPTF, co-founded by silent era megastar Mary Pickford a century ago, offers financial relief and other services to struggling entertainment industry workers. The Academy changed its rules for one year to allow an institution to receive the honor for the first time. “The organization’s contribution during the pandemic has made a significant impact on the entertainment community, providing social services support to nearly 9,000 industry members in 2020,” the Academy said.