Tyler Perry Says He Paid Cicely Tyson $1 Million For Just One Day’s Work Because He ‘Valued’ Her
Tyler Perry knows the value of Cicely Tyson.
The Jazz blues writer/director spoke with AARP The Magazine for his August/September cover story, where he revealed he once paid Tyson, who died last year at 96, “a million dollars” for a single day’s work on his 2007 film Why did I get married?.
“This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn’t paid well for it,” he said. “She won $6,000 for Sounder, you know? I wanted to make sure she knew there were people who liked her.”
Perry, 52, also said he “loves working with Tyson” on Why did I get married?. “It makes me feel good to have been able to give this amazing woman some security in her later years,” he shared.
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Matt Baron/Shutterstock Cicely Tyson and Tyler Perry in 2019
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Tyson and Perry worked together on several films starting in 2005 Diary of a Mad Black Woman as good as Why Did I Get Married?, Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) and Why did I get married too? (2010).
Following Tyson’s death, Perry dedicated a heartfelt tribute to the screen legend on Instagram. “My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating his life in the next,” he wrote in part. “To think that she lived 96 years and that I was able to be part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well today your son mourns your loss and will miss our long discussions, your belly laugh, and your very presence.”
“Always so majestic, always so chic, always a lady, always a queen,” he added. “Every time we spoke, I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you’d say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say that you did everything you were put here to do, and we’re all doing better.”
Tyson’s career spanned over 60 years. With over 95 credits to her credit, she never tires of entertaining audiences, becoming famous for playing resilient and strong black women.
Shayan Ashgarnia Tyler Perry covers AARP The Magazine‘s August/September 2022 issue
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During his AARP The Magazine interview, Perry also reflected on his own struggles, including how he once “went through all [his] money” to produce a play that “didn’t work”.
“After that, I tried again – many, many times – to produce the play,” he recalls. “I would have had different jobs between those times, but I stopped working on the play and found myself homeless. For three months I lived in a Geo Metro that I hid from the repo man.”
While discussing his childhood in Louisiana, Perry also admitted that he had “some survivor guilt” because “there are a lot of people I went to school with who didn’t make it, who ended up in jail, who ended up murdered, especially during the crack brewing days in America.”
“I attribute my coming out to my mom, my aunts, my grandmother — all those amazing women who prayed and taught me things and believed in me,” Perry said. “If I hadn’t had their examples and their straight spine – their insistence that I do something on my own – I don’t know where I would be.”