Over the weekend, a variety of artists and entertainers were presented with awards at the annual Black Entertainment Television Awards.
Iconic entertainer and producer Tyler Perry was awarded “Ultimate Icon Award,” who gave the credited God with his talents.
Perry began his acceptance speech by recanting his childhood, and the circumstances that shaped his career, which began as a child.
He recalled that he first found his humor in an unfortunate way, trying to lift the spirits of his mother and his mother’s friends, who were abused by the men in their lives.
“My first ten movies were all about [my mom] subconsciously, wanting her to know, wanting black women to know ‘you’re worthy, you’re special, you’re powerful, you’re amazing,’” he said.
In his speech, Perry recalled one man who had made a lifelong impact on him by simply helping him cross the street as a child.
“I kept asking, ‘will someone help me cross,” he recalled, but no one would help him.
Finally a man helped him cross the street.
Perry shared that he hired Henson, Viola Davis, and Idris Alba in order to help them cross over a metaphorical street, to cross over in their careers.
“They couldn’t get jobs in this town but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them,” he testified. “I was trying to help somebody cross.”
“When I built my studio, I built it in a neighborhood that is one of the poorest black neighborhoods in Atlanta so that young black kids could see that a black man did that, and they can do it too,” he shared.
Even though Perry experienced a difficult childhood, growing up in a crime-ridden area, he credits his experience for teaching him the importance of helping other people.
“I was trying to help somebody cross,” he added.
“The studio was once a Confederate Army base, which meant that there was Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million Negroes enslaved. Now that land is owned by one Negro,” he said, the crowd standing in applause.
Throughout his entire speech, Perry emphasized the importance of helping others cross, and in the end, pointed it all back to God.
“While everybody else is fighting for a seat at the table, talking about ‘Oscars [are] so white, Oscars so white.’ I said, ‘Y’all go ahead and do that. While you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own,’” Perry stated.
“Because what I know for sure is that if I could just build this table, God will prepare it for me in the presence of my enemies.”