There may not be a Governors Awards this Oscar cycle, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is still intent on handing out honors to those who have given back to the community. This year, the Board of Governors will bestow the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to both Tyler Perry and the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF). Both awards will be handed out during the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, April 25.
In a statement, Academy president David Rubin remarked, “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. 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.”
Perry is well known for his roles in the “Madea” movies and either directing or producing hits such as “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” among others. In 2019, he opened Tyler Perry Studios, a 12-sound stage complex in Atlanta, making him the first African-American to own a major film studio facility. According to the Academy, Tyler’s “commitment to a wide spectrum of charitable and social justice causes has been particularly impactful during the challenges of the past year, addressing economic distress caused by the pandemic, racial reckoning and homelessness in his community.” Additionally, “Perry was instrumental in quickly creating a safe way to return to production during the worldwide health crisis.” Perry was honored with the Television Academy’s Governor’s Award in September.
Regarding the 100-year-old Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF), the Academy noted, “it offers a variety of services to provide emotional and financial relief to entertainment industry members and their families during times of need, including case management, financial assistance for basic living expenses, palliative care, and senior and childcare services. The organization’s contribution during the pandemic has made a significant impact on the entertainment community, providing social services support to nearly 9,000 industry members in 2020. MPTF also offers a wide range of 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.”
This is the first time an organization has won the Hersholt award or more than one recipient has been named in one calendar year. The Board of Governors decided to amend the rules in so doing, noting, “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. The Board may bestow up to two Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards.”
The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.