Cicely Tyson was a highly regarded actress in life, and is now recalled fondly for her legacy and lengthy career in death. But one director, in particular, made sure to give Tyson her proverbial flowers while the treasured actress was still earthside and actively working in Hollywood.
While discussing his life and career with AARP Magazine, Tyler Perry opened up about working with the legendary actress in her early 80’s, and paying her well above the average to show his appreciation for her skills and honor her work.
“This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn’t well compensated for it. She made $6,000 for Sounder, you know?” Perry told the magazine. Tyson was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Rebecca Morgan in the 1972 family drama.
“I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her. So, she did one day of work on my 2007 film Why Did I Get Married? I paid her a million dollars,” Perry went on. “I loved working with her. And it makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years.”
And Tyson clearly felt the love and appreciation, so much so that she worked with Perry on multiple additional occasions. Tyson appeared the film’s 2010 sequel, Why Did I Get Married Too?, and made other cameo appearances in Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and Madea’s Family Reunion. In fact, her final film major role was as Alice in Perry’s 2020 film, A Fall From Grace, and one of her last public appearances was on the red carpet for the film’s premiere.
“I’ve never said this publicly, but I took care of Ms. Tyson for the last 15 years of her life,” Perry said of their multiple projects together. “She was a proud woman, and the only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book.”