Tyler Perry Once Paid Cicely Tyson $1 Million—for One Day’s Work

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Tyler Perry Once Paid Cicely Tyson $1 Million—for One Day’s Work
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Tyler Perry has worked with a lot of notable names in his day, but there's one standout example of how much he valued working with iconic stars: In 2007, Perry paid Cicely Tyson $1 million for the single day of work she did on his film Why Did I Get Married?

In a new interview with AARP The Magazine, Perry shared that Tyson had not been paid well for her past roles, even though the work she had done was incredible. “This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn't well-compensated for it,” Perry explained to AARP. “She made $6,000 for Sounder, you know? I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her. 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.”

Tyson lived to be 96 and had a career that spanned more than five decades. After making a name for herself in a few early roles—she received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her work in Sounder and an Emmy nod for Roots—Tyson continued to act well into her 90s. Her modern roles included parts in Fried Green Tomatoes, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Help, and How to Get Away With Murder (for which she received five Emmy nominations). Tyson also appeared onstage numerous times, winning a Tony in 2014, and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. She passed away in 2021, just days after releasing her memoir, Just As I Am.

Perry, of course, is famous for his iconic Madea role and franchise—but he's also touched the TV and film industry in countless other ways. From his role developing series for OWN's lineup to parts in Gone Girl, Vice, and Don't Look Up, Perry has lent his many talents to the screen. On the other hand, Perry also owns one of the largest film studios in the country, Tyler Perry Studios, where movies like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (starring our very own Lady O!) and Black Panther were filmed.

He's also a dedicated humanitarian and philanthropist, winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Oscars. Perry housed and protected Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after they separated from the royal family, which was revealed to Oprah in her 2021 interview with the pair. He's also been known to cover expenses for those in need—like leaving a $21,000 tip for employees at a restaurant near his Atlanta-based studio. Oprah even shared in People's Kindness issue that he once flew from Atlanta to L.A. just to offer her in-person support when she was going through a tough time—and, NBD, he once bought her a car. Perry also attended Oprah's father's funeral in July 2022, and Ms. Winfrey gave him a shout-out in her speech.

Perry is truly the model of what generosity can be.

"I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life," Perry told AARP. "She was a proud woman, and the only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book. It makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years." Sometimes, giving back is as simple as that—using whatever resources you have to lift and support others.

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