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2021 Oscars: Tyler Perry Accepts The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Tyler Perry attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards.
Getty Images
Tyler Perry attends the 93rd Annual Academy Awards.

Say what you will about the quality of Tyler Perry's body of work — and there are plenty of valid critiques to be made on that front — the successful filmmaker's personal contributions to various social causes and assistance to those in need are worthy of praise. When not providing Meghan and Harry refuge from the stifling prison of royal life, he has, among other things: paid for seniors' groceries; financially assisted the families of Black people killed by police; and created Camp Quarantine at his production studio, which allowed creatives and artists to continue working during quarantine.

And so it's unsurprising that on Sunday evening, Perry took home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars. The honor is given out periodically to an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry." Viola Davis, who collaborated with Perry on the 2009 film Madea Goes to Jail, presented the award.

In a rousing speech, Perry told a story about helping a woman in need buy a pair of shoes, and how it served as a lesson in withholding judgement. "I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle," he concluded, "... because that's where healing happens, that's where conversation happens, that's where change happens. It happens in the middle. So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and help lift someone's feet off the ground, this one's for you, too."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.