Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation have been selected as recipient of the Television Academy’s 2020 Governors Award. The entertainment mogul will be presented with an Emmy statuette during the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast on ABC on Sept. 20.
Perry is being recognized for his achievements in television and his commitment to offering opportunities to marginalized communities through personal and The Perry Foundation programs of inclusion, engagement, employment and other philanthropic initiatives.
The Governors Award, traditionally presented during the Creative Arts Emmys, is making a leap to the main Emmy telecast, watched by millions of viewers. Perry’s selection harkens back to the early years of the Governors Award when it was given to top entertainers, including Johnny Carson, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Over the last three decades, the statuette had been handed out largely to TV shows and networks. No Governors Award was given out last year; the previous four went to Star Trek, ITVS, American Idol and A+E Networks.
The Governors Award’s presentation to an A-list star is eyed to create a highlight during the primetime ceremony. Perry delivered one of the most memorable and rousing award show speeches when he accepted the BET Ultimate Icon Award last year. (You can watch it below).
A self-made actor, writer, producer, director and philanthropist, Perry is behind 22 feature films, over 20 stage plays, 13 television shows, two bestselling books and the sprawling Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Perry’s entertainment enterprise has generated more than $2 billion to date. Through The Perry Foundation, he has aided people and charities who help others overcome the obstacles that he, too, once faced and has been intimately involved in the support of civil rights causes.
“Tyler Perry has changed the face of television and inspired a new generation of content creators. He pioneered a new brand of storytelling that engages people of color both in front of and behind the camera, and his shows have resonated with a global audience,” said Governors Award selection committee Chair Eva Basler. “Tyler’s influence has extended far beyond the screen. His commitment to a broad range of philanthropic causes has had a profound impact on underserved communities around the world,” said committee Vice Chair Debra Curtis.
Perry launched his first sitcom, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, in 2007 with an unprecedented initial order of 100 episodes from TBS and a Fox station group-led syndication. The unique deal for the series generated more than $200 million in revenue and helped create a new business model, 90/10. With a total of 254 episodes, the show aired more episodes than any other television series with a predominantly African American cast. A 2016 DGA report found that nearly a quarter of all basic cable episodes helmed by directors of color are attributed to Perry.
In the fall of 2008, Perry opened his first studio in Atlanta. During its operation, the space was home to production of over 15 films and over 800 episodes of television. In 2015 Tyler Perry Studios announced plans to expand the Atlanta-based operations with the acquisition of Fort McPherson on over 330 acres of land. It officially opened doors last fall. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Perry is breaking new ground with his “Camp Quarantine” model, which has allowed him to safely film new seasons of his BET and BET+ series. THE VOD streaming service, BET+, in which Perry is an equity partner, recently surpassed a million subscribers.
Perry’s history of philanthropy includes support for numerous charities that focus on helping the homeless, including Global Medical Relief Fund, Charity Water, Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure and Perry Place (a 20-home community that Perry built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans). He pledged financial support via The Perry Foundation to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
This year, Perry teamed up with grocery stores in New Orleans and Atlanta to give out gift cards to the elderly; who have been financially impacted by the pandemic, paid for private plane travel for George Floyd’s family to attend his funerals; covered funeral expenses for Atlanta’s Rayshard Brooks and Secoria Turner; and donated 1,000 gift cards to Atlanta residents, which were handed out by police as a way to build relationships in the community.
“I’m grateful for and humbled by this recognition from the Television Academy,” said Perry. “I’ve always prided myself on the work we do at the studio, our diverse representation of people from all walks of life, and the community we’ve built. My hope is that through moments like this we can remind others of the power of ownership and show that when the world doesn’t offer you a seat at the table, you can build your own.”