Tyler Perry Reveals He Financially Supported Cicely Tyson the Last 15 Years of Her Life

Tyler Perry and Cicely Tyson (Credit: Shutterstock)

Tyler Perry is known for giving Black actors opportunities, and in a new interview he said he also tries to make sure they know they are valued.

Perry spoke with AARP The Magazine for its August/September cover story. The Jazzman’s Blues filmmaker looked back on his career and revealed that he once paid Cicely Tyson $1 million for a single day of work.

“I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life,” the writer-director said. “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.”

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Perry added that he wanted to make sure Tyson had financial security.

“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,” he said.

Tyson also worked with Perry on his films Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), Madea’s Family Reunion (2006), Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010) and A Fall From Grace (2020).

The acting legend passed away in January 2021 at the age of 96.

She reached stardom with her role in Sounder, as the wife of a Black sharecropper (Paul Winfield) struggling to make ends meet during the Depression era in the South. Tyson was nominated for an Academy Award role her in the film.

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She won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 1974 — one for Best Actress in a Drama for her role as 110-year-old former slave Jane Pittman in the television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and a Primetime Super Emmy Award for Actress of the Year given out at that year’s ceremony.

Tyson won her third Emmy in 1994 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for her role in the CBS miniseries Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.