The iconic actor's career in the industry spanned more than 60 years with 95 movies to her credit.
Tyler Perry revealed that he once paid Cicely Tyson $1 million for a day's work. The writer-director said it was to reflect her body of work and stature. Tyson passed away last year at the age of 96. Perry was speaking with AARP when he revealed he paid the actor a "million dollars" for a single day of work on his 2007 film "Why Did I Get Married?" Perry hailed Tyson's work and said she never got fairly paid for her work previously. "This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn't well compensated for it," he said. "She made $6,000 for 'Sounder,' you know? I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her." Tyson's career in the industry spans more than 60 years with 95 movies to her credit.
The 52-year-old said he loved working with Tyson on the film and was more than happy to support her. "It makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years," he said. They also worked together on various films including "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" (2005), "Why Did I Get Married?" (2007), "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006) and "Why Did I Get Married Too?" (2010).
Tyson passed away in January 2021 and the actor-director paid tribute to the iconic actor on Instagram. "My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next," he wrote. "To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. 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." He described her as a regal, classy, woman. "Always a queen," he said. Tyson was known for playing resilient, strong Black women. Perry continued, "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."
Perry also recalled his own struggles including being homeless, during the interview with AARP. He is a hugely successful director but he recalled spending all his money on a play that didn't work. "After that, I tried again—many, many times—to produce the play," he said. "I would get different jobs between those times, but I'd quit to work on the play, and I ended up homeless. For three months, I lived in a Geo Metro that I was hiding from the repo man."
He had a tough upbringing and recalled those around him suffering and not making it. Perry said he has "survivor's guilt" as "there are a lot of people I went to school with who did not make it, who ended up in prison, who ended up murdered, especially during the time of the crack cocaine infusion into America." He paid tribute to the women in his life for guiding him. "I credit my getting out to my mother, my aunts, my grandmother—all these incredible women who prayed and taught me things and believed in me," Perry said. "Had I not had their examples and their straight-up backbone—their insistence that I make something of myself—I don't know where I'd be."