Your People's Champion of 2020 has spoken.
Taking the stage at the 2020 E! People's Choice Awards to accept the honor after a spirited introduction from his pal Tiffany Haddish—with a virtual assist from the staff at his studio in Atlanta—Tyler Perry delivered a moment that won't soon be forgotten.
"I'm so inspired and moved by this moment. I'm grateful. When I think about all these people…they always inspire me," he said, referencing his employees watching from home. "So when this pandemic hit, I know I had to do all I could do to make sure they could continue in this great place they're headed towards in their lives…As I think about them, I though about this moment I wanted to share with you really quickly."
The filmmaker treated us all to a story about needing to dig a well outside his first house, how much trouble it caused him, and how, just when he was about to throw in the towel, the man he'd hired finally hit the payload and found the water needed. Why this particular memory? "In this world, we're all digging wells. In our lives, we're digging wells. We're digging wells in relationships, where we put all this time and effort and energy and sometimes it doesn't give us what we need. We put all out time and effort and energy in dreams and business and it doesn't give us what we were after, but if you just keep digging—my God, if you could just hear me now—keep digging. You may be four inches away from every gift and blessing you ever wanted in your life."
Perry's message didn't stop there. "Had I given up when I was homeless, sleeping in my car, hungry, had I given up these people that you see on the screen right now wouldn't be part of my dream. There are people tied into your dreams and destiny, and you're worthy of getting to your goal. Keep digging. Don't stop," he continued. "Let me tell you something, listen to me, when you get there, to that water and see it coming and know you have what you need, this is what I want you to always remember—make sure that everybody you run into meets you at your worth. Thank you to all the people who voted for me to have this. I'm really inspired, motivated, moved and I'm going to keep going. God bless you. Make sure people meet you at your worth. I love you."
Talk about a mic drop moment.
Explaining why the world-renowned mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist was chosen to receive this year's People's Champion Award, Jen Neal, General Manager of E! News, Live Events & Lifestyle Digital, said in an October statement, "In a year of unrest and uncertainty, Tyler Perry proved a natural leader. From his pioneering efforts in successfully, and safely, restarting production and creating jobs at Tyler Perry Studios, to personally supporting charities and families in need, he continuously inspires hope in people. We are honored to present him with the People's Champion of 2020 Award."
Or as Haddish so perfectly put it during her introduction, "Tyler is one of those people who will do something nice for you just because you are you…Because he knows what it feels like to not know where you next paycheck is coming from, he kept all his employees at Tyler Perry Studios on the payroll during this pandemic…With Tyler, you feel like you won the lottery, not like you asked for charity. He provided moments of joy and relief, but with dignity and grace. He roots for the underdog, and I am so proud to know him."
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While Perry's trailblazing work in the entertainment industry would be enough to warrant the honor, it's his charitable philanthropy throughout 2020 that proved exactly why he's the person Haddish described. Not only was Tyler Perry Studios the first to resume production during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating "Camp Quarantine" on the lot, securing the jobs of his entire staff, Perry also personally covered travel expenses for George Flyod's family to attend his funerals and funeral expenses for Rayshard Brooks and Secoriea Turner in Atlanta. Throughout the pandemic, he's also purchased groceries for the elderly, as well as grocery store gift cards for police to hand out to Atlanta community members in need.
A true man of the people.
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