Gone this award season, along with many other live events, is the annual Governors Awards, scuttled by the pandemic. Instead, the Academy Board of Governors has voted to present two Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards for the first time, not only to filmmaker Tyler Perry, but also to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF). The Oscar statuettes will be presented at the two-month-delayed 93rd Oscars which airs live on ABC and to broadcast outlets worldwide on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
“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 an official statement. “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.”
Prolific multi-hyphenate Perry is a producer, director, actor, writer, and philanthropist who supports a spectrum of charitable and social justice causes, and stepped up his commitment in 2020 to fight economic distress and homelessness caused by the pandemic.
Today’s announcement lists many of accomplishments, including: In 2019, he opened his own 330-acre motion picture studio on the site of a former Confederate Army base in Atlanta, Georgia. Tyler Perry Studios is home to a state-of-the-art production facility with 12 sound stages that provides hundreds of local jobs in film and television production. Perry was instrumental in quickly creating a safe way to return to production during the worldwide health crisis. Besides writing stage plays, Perry wrote, directed and/or produced the films “A Fall from Grace,” “Acrimony,” “Madea Goes to Jail,” “Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” and on television, such series as “Sistas,” “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “The Oval” and “House of Payne.”
The Board of Governors voted to amend the rules for the Governors Awards, giving the Jean Hersholt Oscar statuette for the first time to an organization. “For this year only, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award may be given not just to an individual, but also to a group of individuals or an organization in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry,” stated the Board in an official statement. “The Board may bestow up to two Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards.”
The century-old Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) has long offered a range of services for emotional and financial relief to needy members of the entertainment industry, including case management, financial assistance for basic living expenses, palliative care, and senior and childcare services. As the Academy shared today, “But during the pandemic, the MPTF stepped up and made a significant impact on the entertainment community, providing social services support to nearly 9,000 industry members in 2020. MPTF also offers a housing accommodations, from independent and assisted living to nursing and memory care.”
Jean Hersholt, for whom the Academy’s humanitarian award is named, served as president of the Fund for 18 years, from 1938 until his death in 1956.