At this year’s 2020 virtual Emmy Awards, entertainment mogul Tyler Perry was the recipient of the prestigious Governors Award. The award is presented to an individual, company, organization or project for outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences or management of television. This year, Perry was honored for his contributions to the entertainment industry and his commitment to offering opportunities to communities through his charitable organization the Perry Foundation. Through this organization he has created programs of inclusion, engagement, employment and other philanthropic initiatives that is not limited to benefiting any particular group of people.
Many may wonder why Perry is the icon he is today. During his acceptance speech, presented by industry sister Oprah Winfrey, he humbly told a story about the influence his grandmother had on his life.
“This is amazing. I didn’t expect to feel this way,” he said, opening up his acceptance speech.
“When I was about 19 years old, I left home and my grandmother, she gave me a quilt that she had made,” he continued. “And this quilt was something I didn’t really care for. It had all these different colors and these different patches in it. And I was quite embarrassed by it. I had no value in it at all.”
Perry later discovered the story of this gift when passing by an antique store with a similar patchwork quilt. The person said a similar quilt they were selling “was made by an African-American woman who was a former slave and each patch in the quilt she had put in represented a part of her life.” The discovery admittedly left Perry feeling embarrassed.
“Here I was a person who prized myself on celebrating our heritage, our culture, and I didn’t even recognize the value in my grandmother’s quilt. I dismissed her work and her story because it didn’t look like what I thought it should… We are all sewing our own quilts with our thoughts and our behaviors and our experiences and our memories.”
“I stand here tonight to say thank you all the people tonight who are celebrating, who know the value of every patch, ever color that makes up this quilt… this quilt that is our lives, this quilt that is America,” the billionaire proudly stated.
Tyler Perry is an example of resilience. According to People, he is a self-made actor, writer, producer, director and philanthropist, Perry is behind 22 feature films, over 20 stage plays, 13 television shows, two bestselling books, and the sprawling Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. He deserves all the accolades that come his way.
Watch the full acceptance speech below: