In the shocking interview between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and Oprah it was revealed their fears and struggles with racism in the royal family. But one unlikely hero was named, Tyler Perry.
Perry has built an entertainment empire as a writer, actor, producer and director.
One legacy that not many are aware of involves swooping in to help the wealthy and those in need — from paying for Christmas layaways to providing a private jet for Whitney Houston’s funeral.
During the CBS interview that aired Sunday night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex detailed their relocation to Canada and later to California where they now live — and the role Perry played in their move. Soon after the couple announced they were stepping back from their royal duties last year, they told Oprah Winfrey, they lost security protection from the British royal family. They were in Canada’s Vancouver Island at the time, and started panicking about security threats after their home’s location was revealed.
Being right at the brink of the pandemic they knew they had to act fast before the borders were closed to the United States.
“It dawned on me … we’re going to have our security removed, who knows how long lockdown is going to be. The world knows where we are; it’s not safe… We probably need to get out of here,” Harry said.
Perry offered his house in Southern California, where the couple stayed for several months with full security. “We didn’t have a plan,” Markle told Oprah. “We needed a house and he (Tyler Perry) offered his security as well so it gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we were going to do.”
Perry was a high school dropout living in his car while working on his first play. He grew up in New Orleans, where he was physically and sexually abused, an experience that enraged and confused him, but he never gave up.
Now the man who was previously known for his role as an outspoken, gun-toting grandmother in movie adaptations of his popular “Madea” runs his Atlanta-based production company, Tyler Perry Studios.
The studio is built on 330 acres on a former Confederate Army base is the first studio fully owned by an African American in the US. An incredible accomplishment for any.
Two years ago, he paid for layaway items worth over $430,000 at Atlanta area Walmart stores during Christmas. “I know it’s a hard time, a lot of people are struggling and I’m just really grateful to be able to be in a position to do this,” Perry said in a video at the time.
After the 2012 death of Whitney Houston, he provided the plane to transport her body from Los Angeles to her home state of New Jersey for the burial.
In 2019, he helped a multitude of people from an American couple stuck at a Mexican hospital after they were unable to pay their bill after treatment — to a Georgia family struggling to pay rent, debt, and school fees after their mother’s murder.
Audrey Turner, whose mother was killed by her boyfriend, recounted the initial conversation saying it was a phone call she wasn’t even going to answer, and when he revealed himself she ‘broke down crying.’
One of Perry’s most important roles recently was reassuring African Americans to take the coronavirus shot.
Because of growing concerns, he hosted a show in which he interviewed experts and asked questions on the vaccine’s safety, testing, and development. During the show, which aired on BET in January, he rolled up his shirt and got his shot. He even provided groceries for thousands of elderly people in Louisiana and Georgia at the height of the pandemic in April. “I wanted to do something immediate that got out to people immediately,” he stated.