Director Tyler Perry received a standing ovation after delivering an inspirational speech as he accepted an honour at the 2019 BET Awards on Sunday.
The filmmaker, who is perhaps best known for creating and performing as the character Madea, took to the stage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to accept the Ultimate Icon Award, and during his speech, he spoke about how he’s always sharing opportunities and trying to help the likes of Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba get a break by casting them in his movies.
“When I started hiring people like Taraji, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, they couldn’t get jobs in this town, but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them. I was trying to help somebody cross,” said Perry, who continued to explain that he helped his mother cross by making films which “let black women know they are worthy, special, powerful, amazing.”
The Gone Girl actor went on to detail why he chose the location of his film studio in Atlanta, Georgia.
“When I built my studio, I built it in a neighbourhood that is one of the poorest black neighbourhoods in Atlanta, so that young black kids could see that a black man did that and they could do it, too,” he continued. “That studio was once a Confederate Army base – and I want you to hear this – which meant that there were 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.”
After receiving applause and a standing ovation for his comment, the 49-year-old concluded, “While everybody was fighting for a seat at the table, talking about #OscarsSoWhite, I said, ‘Y’all go ahead and do that, but while you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own’… Rather than being an icon, I want to be an inspiration.”
Other winners on the night included Regina King and Michael B. Jordan, who won Best Actress and Best Actor, while BlacKkKlansman was named Best Movie.
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