On Sunday, November 15 during the airing of the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards, Tyler Perry was presented with The People’s Champion Award by Tiffany Haddish. While onstage in Santa Monica, California at Barker Hanger, Perry was surprised by his Atlanta production studio employees and staff virtually through a wall of monitors. Most of the staff wore Tyler Perry Studios t-shirts while listening to Perry give his emotional speech remotely.
The 51 year old writer, director, and actor began by expressing his gratitude for the people he works alongside and the sense of duty he feels towards them.
“I’m grateful. When I think about all these people, these underdogs, some former prisoners in jail for 20 years, one in jail for seven, they always inspire me, so when this pandemic hit I knew I needed to do all I could to make sure they could continue in this great place that they’re headed towards in their lives, in their marriages, businesses that they started for themselves, and their own companies and their houses, sending their kids to school.”
Perry then recalled an account he had with an engineer working to dig a well in the yard of his Atlanta home 18 years ago. Perry spent a lot of time, effort and money with this engineer to dig multiple test wells to find a water reservoir to no avail. He eventually changed direction and requested that the engineer dig one well as deep as he had to to reach water. After continuing to persevere and 1,000 feet later, they finally came to a point where they were only four inches away from water.
“My God if you could just hear me right now, just keep digging. You may be four inches away from every gift and every blessing that you ever wanted in your life. Had I given up, when I was homeless, when I was sleeping in my car, when I was hungry, had I given up, these people that you see on this screen right now would not be a part of my dream,” he said as his staff applauded in the background. “There are people who are tied to your dream and your destiny, and you are worthy of getting to your goal. Keep digging, don’t stop.”
According to Jen Neal, E! News General Manager of Live Events, Lifestyle Digital, Perry was chosen as the People’s Champion award recipient due to his leadership during the uncertainty of a pandemic and the unrest of a social justice movement. Tyler Perry not only was able to restart production safely at his own Tyler Perry Studios during “camp quarantine”, securing and creating jobs, he also supports charities and those in need. He often makes charitable contributions throughout his own local community of Atlanta.