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.”
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.
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.