Tyler Perry has never been shy about showing his appreciation for Cicely Tyson. The late actress’ career spanned over seven decades with roles in movies like A Lesson Before Dying, Sounder, A Man Called Adam and many other films that portrayed positive images of Black women. It’s no wonder that once Perry had the opportunity to work with the award-winning star, he would show his gratitude in a major way.
While speaking with AARP the Magazine for the August/September cover story, the New Orleans native shared that he took care of the actress for over a decade. “I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life,” he said. Perry added, “The only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book.” Next, he discussed how even with all of her achievements, like receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, he didn’t feel as though she got the credit she deserved.
“This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn’t well compensated for it. She made $6,000 for Sounder, you know? I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her,” he shared. “She did one day of work on my 2007 film Why Did I Get Married? I paid her a million dollars,” the mogul said. He continued by saying how it was a blessing to be able to help her: “I loved working with her. And it makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years.”
In the 2010 follow-up, Why Did I Get Married Too?, Tyson portrayed Ola Jones. She starred alongside Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, Perry himself and others. The film followed four couples on an annual trip to the Bahamas and showcased issues that may arise in relationships, as well as how couples can overcome them. Tyson passed away last year in her hometown of New York; she was 96 years old.