Perry made the announcement during his acceptance speech for the organization’s Impact Award. Perry was presented the award by Whoopi Goldberg.
“My studio [in Georgia] was once a former Confederate-owned army base where there were 3.9 million negroes and slaves at the time, and there were Confederate soldiers plotting and planning how to keep them enslaved,” Perry said. “While now that land is owned by one negro and I know the importance of what it means to honor that and honor the history of what it has been, and what it has been and to redirect it and rechange it. So it’s very important to me that we all give and support, and with that said, I’d like to give a half-million dollars to make sure this place continues to grow and thrive.”
Perry concluded his speech by sharing that 98 percent of the people he paid last year with his $154 million payroll were Black. He then implored those listening not to give up on their career goals, using his own uplift of Black people in the industry as an example of the good that can come from Black people’s success.
“That is the power of us, that is the power of understanding our stories, our messages, whether who gets it or who don’t. Long as you walk you path, you understand who you’re talking to, you know your audience. If you’ve got a dream in this room, please hear me when I say this, do not give up on your dreams,” Perry said. “If I would have given up, I don’t know who would have given that payroll, or if they would be in Hollywood, if people wouldn’t let them in the door. When you come to Tyler Perry Studios, you see the most diverse group of people who have ever worked in the industry, and for that I am grateful.”
Including Perry’s gift, the Apollo raised a record-breaking $3.7 last night. This year’s gala was hosted by Kenan Thompson. Guests included Phylicia Rashad, Samuel and LaTanya Jackson, Susan Kelechi Watson, Daymond John, Stephanie Mills and Anthony Hamilton. The event also saw performances from The Roots and Ogi, and an appearance by drumline group Marching Cobras.