The Television Academy announced today that entertainment industry icon and innovator Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation will receive the 2020 Governors Award in recognition of their unparalleled contributions to shaping the television medium.
The accomplished entertainment mogul was chosen by the Television Academy’s Board of Governors for his unprecedented achievements in television and his commitment to offering opportunities to marginalized communities through personal and The Perry Foundation programs of inclusion, engagement, employment and other philanthropic initiatives and will receive his Emmy statuette during the Emmy Awards telecast on Sunday, Sept. 20.
The award honors an individual or organization in the television arts and sciences whose achievement is so exceptional and universal in nature that it goes beyond the scope of annual Emmy Awards recognition.
Perry’s inspirational journey from the streets of New Orleans to Hollywood’s A-list is the stuff of American dreams. The self-made actor, writer, producer, director and philanthropist is the visionary behind 22 feature films, over 20 stage plays, 13 television shows, two New York Times bestselling books, and the groundbreaking Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Through The Perry Foundation, he has aided people and charities who help others overcome the obstacles that he, too, once faced and has been intimately involved in the support of civil rights causes.
“Tyler Perry has changed the face of television and inspired a new generation of content creators. He pioneered a new brand of storytelling that engages people of color both in front of and behind the camera, and his shows have resonated with a global audience,” said Governors Award selection committee Chair Eva Basler. “Tyler’s influence has extended far beyond the screen. His commitment to a broad range of philanthropic causes has had a profound impact on underserved communities around the world,” said committee Vice Chair Debra Curtis.
“I’m grateful for and humbled by this recognition from the Television Academy,” said Perry. “I’ve always prided myself on the work we do at the studio, our diverse representation of people from all walks of life, and the community we’ve built. My hope is that through moments like this we can remind others of the power of ownership and show that when the world doesn’t offer you a seat at the table, you can build your own.”
Perry has amassed an extraordinary body of work, and his entertainment enterprise has generated more than $2 billion to date. Among his many accomplishments, he has written, directed, and produced over 1,200 episodes of television, 22 feature films and over 20 theatrical plays, which alone grossed over $100 million in sales. Perry’s theatrical films have cumulatively grossed over $1 billion at the North American box office; and the average gross is over $50 million at the box office per film, making him one of the highest earning individuals in the industry. In a recent study that looked at the 100 top-grossing movies each year for the past 11 years, Perry was named the top performer across the board, directing 15 out of the 1,100 films. Perry’s latest film, A Fall From Grace, premiered on Netflix in January, where an impressive 26 million people chose to watch it in its first seven days on the platform.
Perry launched his first sitcom, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, in 2007 with an unprecedented initial order of 100 episodes from a unique window combining Turner Broadcasting and a Fox station group-led syndication. The deal for the series generated more than $200 million in revenue and aired in dual windows on TBS and in Fox station group-led syndication, creating the 90/10 model and setting a precedent for the industry. With a total of 254 episodes, the show aired more episodes than any other television series with a predominantly African American cast, surpassing The Jeffersons, Family Matters, and The Cosby Show. A 2016 Directors Guild of America report found that nearly a quarter of all basic cable episodes directed by ethnic minority helmers are attributed to Perry.
In the fall of 2008, Perry opened his first studio in Atlanta. During its operation, the space was home to the production of over 15 films and over 800 episodes of television. In 2015 Tyler Perry Studios announced plans to expand the Atlanta-based operations with the acquisition of Fort McPherson on over 330 acres of land and celebrated its grand opening in the fall of 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Perry is breaking new ground with “Camp Quarantine,” a unique approach to production on his four series for BET and BET+. THE VOD streaming service, BET+, in which Perry is an equity partner, recently surpassed a million subscribers.
Perry’s history of philanthropy includes support for numerous charities that focus on helping the homeless, including Global Medical Relief Fund, Charity Water, Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure and Perry Place (a 20-home community that Perry built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans). He pledged financial support via The Perry Foundation to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
This year, Perry has conceived and implemented several ways to help those financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He teamed up with grocery stores in New Orleans and Atlanta to give out gift cards to the elderly; paid for private plane travel for George Floyd’s family to attend his funerals; covered funeral expenses for Atlanta’s Rayshard Brooks and Secoria Turner; and donated 1,000 gift cards to Atlanta residents, which were handed out by police as a way to build relationships in the community.
The celebrated entertainer has been honored in 2009 by the National Association of Television Program Executives with the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, the chairman’s award at the 41st Annual NAACP Image Awards in 2010, a best supporting actor award from the African American Film Critics Association for his role in Gone Girl in 2014, the DGA Honors from the Directors Guild of America in 2014 and the People’s Choice Award for favorite humanitarian in 2017.
Previous recipients of the Governors Award, which debuted in 1978, include Star Trek; American Idol; William S. Paley; Hallmark Cards Inc.; Masterpiece Theater; Comic Relief; and ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and A+E networks.