Tyler Perry's inspirational BET Awards speech is getting a standing ovation.




Tyler Perry says instead of fighting for a seat at the table, build your own

There's a lot to be said for paving your own path, and Tyler Perry said it all when he accepted the Ultimate Icon Award at the BET Awards. Perry received his award for making movies that were, Perry feels, subconsciously about "wanting her [his mother] to know that she was worthy—wanting black women to know you're worthy, you're special, you're powerful, you're amazing." Perry's inspirational acceptance speech has enough motivation to get you going for years. He spoke to the power of helping others while simultaneously carving out your own destiny.


Perry revealed that when he built his studio in Atlanta, he placed it in one of the city's poorer neighborhoods as a deliberate move to show black children that they, too, can succeed. Not only that, "The studio was once a Confederate Army base," he said. "And, I want you to hear this, which meant that there was Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million negroes enslaved. Now that land is owned by one negro."

Perry said that movements like #OscarsSoWhite help POC get hired, but he prefers to take a different, more proactive route. "While everybody was fighting for a seat at the table talking about #OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoWhite, I said, 'Y'all go ahead and do that,'" he said. "But while you're fighting for a seat at the table, I'll be down in Atlanta building my own."

But by carving his own table, Perry has made a seat for other black talent. "When I started hiring Taraji, Viola Davis and Idris Elba, they couldn't get jobs in this town but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them. I was trying to help somebody cross," said Perry during his speech. Taraji P. Henson, who presented Perry with the award, recalled Perry paying her a fair wage for her work. "In a time where my counterparts were making way more than I was ... Tyler Perry was the first to pay me my worth," said Henson. "A black man did that and that means the world to me."

Perry concluded with words of wisdom for every artist who has dared to dream. "Every dreamer in this room: there are people whose lives are tied into your dream. Own your stuff, own your business, own your way," Perry said. This is seriously moving.

The crowd gave Perry a standing ovation, and we totally get it. We're giving Perry a standing ovation right now, and we're not even at the auditorium. You can always extend a helping hand to somebody else while building your own future.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.