In a sneak peek at his upcoming interview with Willie Geist on Sunday Today, the actor-director opens up about the first time he met the TV icon. At the time, Perry was working in a hotel at which Winfrey was a guest.
“I was so excited Oprah was coming — so excited,” says Perry, 48. “I vacuumed that hallway all day long because I knew she had to get off that elevator to go to the room.”
On the day she was leaving, he finally worked up the courage to ask for her autograph.
“I’m vacuuming the floor and she walks past, and I was like, Tyler, just say it, just say it. ‘Can I have your autograph, please?’ ” he recalls. “She turns around and she puts an O on the page. It was a good moment.”
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Later in his career, Perry, who is best known for the Madea movie series, would go on to work closely with Winfrey. In 2012, he struck a multi-year partnership with the mogul and her network, OWN, for which he has produced scripted shows such as The Have and Have Nots and If Loving You Is Wrong.
In July, it was announced that Perry had signed a long-term deal with Viacom. While the film deal began immediately, the TV and video components won’t begin until 2019, when Perry’s agreement with OWN expires.
In 2013, Perry and Winfrey appeared on the cover of the June issue of Essence, in which they discussed their close personal and professional relationship.
“The most important thing about coming together was making sure we would not lose our friendship because of the business,” said Perry. “We had to establish ground rules.”
“The main one: Both of us have to continue to live in our truth,” he continued. “If she doesn’t like something, say it. If I don’t like something, I’ll say it. And we’ll figure it out and keep moving on.”
Winfrey also raved about their partnership.
“We both know how rare this is,” she said. “Where else in the history of our African-American culture have two really, really successful people who can do whatever they want said, ‘Let’s come together and be even more powerful — let’s take it to the tenth power.’ “
Perry’s full interview airs this Sunday on NBC’s Sunday Today with Willie Geist.