Tyler Perry never hid his admiration for Cicely Tyson while she was alive. And besides working with the iconic actress on some of his notable movies, the billionaire filmmaker also made sure she was financially stable in the last 15 years of her life.
In an interview with AARP The Magazine, the 52-year-old revealed he paid Tyson $1 million for appearing on set for just a day, ET reported. “I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life,” Perry said.
“She was a proud woman, and the only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book. 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 added: “So, she did one day of work on my 2007 film Why Did I Get Married? I paid her a million dollars. 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.”
Tyson passed away in January 2021 at the age of 96. The trailblazing and award-winning actress broke down racial barriers in Hollywood in the 1960s. And with a career spanning over six decades, Tyson influenced several seasoned Black Hollywood actors and filmmakers including Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Viola Davis, and Ava DuVernay.
In the wake of her death, Perry, in a tribute on Instagram, said Tyson the grandmother he never had, and “the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup.”
“My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy,” he added.
“She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”