Tyler Perry has done quite a lot for Atlanta: His titular Tyler Perry Studios are based in, set up, and thriving in the Atlanta area, making Perry the first African-American person to own and operate a major movie production studio. His influence reaches far and wide, impacting both cast and crew, including the massive army of artists, caterers, and other blue-collar workers required to pull off feature film production. Further still, Perry’s impact inspires and guides fellow people of color in their creative journeys. But it’s clear that being based in Atlanta isn’t all business for Perry; the city and the surrounding area has reached him on a personal level, too.
As the AJC reports, Perry recently paid for all the groceries for senior citizens during their early morning shopping hours at dozens of Kroger stores in Atlanta and Winn-Dixie grocers in his hometown of New Orleans. Felix Turner, the Atlanta spokesman for Kroger, had the following to say:
“Senior and higher-risk Kroger shoppers in metro Atlanta did receive a nice surprise at the register this morning when they learned Tyler Perry had paid their grocery tab in full. We would like to join our customers in thanking Mr. Perry for his kindness and generosity during this unprecedented pandemic. It was truly a pleasure to see our customers fill with joy and gratitude as the news spread throughout 44 stores across metro Atlanta.”
Perry’s generosity and random act of kindness had immediate effects beyond providing seniors with necessities. Phil Kloer, a former reporter at the AJC, paid his comped $290 grocery bill forward by donating $300 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Hopefully more folks, especially those who are more financially able than others, will do the same.
The likely six-figure “donation” from Perry comes on the heels of a $21,000 tip to 42 out-of-work servers at his favorite local restaurant in Atlanta. At $500 a pop, that’s a nice boost to folks directly financially affected by the pandemic, but also more than the average person could afford to do. However, Perry, like other members of the upper-class, are able to be philanthropic while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. Lady Gaga‘s efforts to curate a coronavirus crisis concert have already raised more than $35 million; Twitter’s controversial CEO Jack Dorsey has set aside $1 billion for charity related to combating coronavirus and future research; while Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, and Bill and Melinda Gates contributed $25 million toward COVID-19 treatment research through their charitable foundation.
Now those in the billionaires club have faced their fair share of criticism for throwing a relative couple of bucks at a worldwide problem, but charitable gestures like Perry’s feel more earnest because they directly benefit people and they’re done locally. And with good reason.
Perry also took to social media recently to not only mourn the passing of longtime crew member Charles Gregory, but also to urge his fans to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously:
View this post on Instagram
Dear Black People, Today it’s with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of one of our crew members. Mr. Charles Gregory was a hairstylist that had worked with us for many years. The man was warm, loving and hilarious. We all loved to see him coming and hear his laughter. Charles lost his battle with COVID-19 today. It saddens me to think of him dying this way. My sincerest prayers are with his family. While everyone can contract this virus it is black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers. This thing is real, black people. I heard a black person say, “Black people don’t get it.” That is a lie! You can get it, and you will get it if we don’t do what we're being told to do. A 26 year old black woman died the other day, a 44 year old black man died the other day, not to mention the hundreds of people that are dying every few minutes. Your age does not matter!! Your health does not matter. You could be totally healthy, and you could die! Now listen to me. You have been right by my side since I started in this business, so please hear me with your heart. I LOVE US. I love our humor. I love our culture. I love our hair. I love our skin. I love everything about who we are. All of us. And I love us all too much to watch us die on the vine because we are the last to know and we are not taking this pandemic seriously. Black people, we are at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from this virus. Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously. You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others. STAY HOME!! Socially distance yourself and stay alive! If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you. My Mother always told me to not wait for help! Be your own help!