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Academy honors Tyler Perry with Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 1/14/2021 Joey Nolfi
Tyler Perry wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Perry and the Motion Picture & Television Fund will receive statuettes at the 93rd Oscars. © Jason Merritt/Getty Images Perry and the Motion Picture & Television Fund will receive statuettes at the 93rd Oscars.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry will receive one of the Academy's highest honors at the upcoming Oscars ceremony.

The Academy is set to present Perry — creator of the Madea film franchise, producer, and founder of the groundbreaking Tyler Perry Studios facility — with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the telecast for his commitment to charitable and social justice causes during the economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, racial reckoning, and homelessness in his community.

In addition to opening his namesake studio on a former Confederate Army base in Atlanta (providing hundreds of job opportunities in the area), Perry recently spearheaded creating a safe way to return to production during the current health crisis.

For the first time, the Academy will also present an organization with the Humanitarian Award, as the 100-year-old Motion Picture & Television Fund — which offers services to provide emotional and financial relief to entertainment industry members during times of need — has been named a co-recipient this year.

"There has been such widespread generosity in our industry that limiting the Hersholt Humanitarian Award to one recipient, this year in particular, was impossible. So, we are breaking with tradition and giving two awards to honor that spirit," said Academy President David Rubin in a press release. "Tyler's cultural influence extends far beyond his work as a filmmaker.  He has quietly and steadily focused on humanitarian and social justice causes from the beginning of his career, caring for people who are most often ignored. The work of the MPTF is more vital than ever, and the organization has gone above and beyond to help our community.  The sheer number of individuals and families—from every corner of our industry's workforce—aided during the pandemic and over the last 100 years is nothing short of extraordinary."

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Voted on by the Board of Governors, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award has gone to notable entertainers and philanthropists in the past, including Geena Davis, Debbie Reynolds, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Frank Sinatra, among others.

The 93rd Oscars — produced by Contagion helmer Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins, and Stacey Sher — air Sunday, April 25 on ABC.

Read more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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