Tyler Perry was this year’s recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at Sunday Night’s 93rd annual Academy Awards.
Perry took the stage at Los Angeles’ Union Station and gave an inspired and heartfelt speech while accepting the special-achievement Oscar for what the Academy cited as his “cultural influence extending far beyond his work as a filmmaker.”
He began with a story from 17 years ago when he extended a helping hand to a homeless woman and brought her into his production wardrobe, after her request for a pair of simple shoes. The interaction stayed with him all these years later and he went on to explain why.
“When I set out to help someone, it is my intention to do just that. I’m not trying to do anything other than meet somebody at their humanity.”
“My mother taught me to refuse hate. 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 LGBTQ. 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.
“And I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the walls. Stand in the middle, 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.
“God bless you, and thank you, academy. I appreciate it, thank you.”