Tyler Perry Comes To The Rescue When Couple Is Held Hostage At Hospital In Mexico

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

You probably know Tyler Perry best for starting his own empire. He’s the first black man to build his own major film studio, and the Madea films you love so much wouldn’t have been possible without him.

But it’s important to know that he also looks out for his community — even people he doesn’t know.

Engaged couple Tori Austin and Stephen Johnson were taking a fun Carnival Dream Cruise vacation when something disastrous happened. Stephen got very sick while on the ship and was diagnosed with pancreatitis and diabetes. Both are manageable yet still life-altering conditions. But it was their hospital bill that was the most depressing.

Not many people can afford a spontaneous $14,000 bill.

The couple didn’t have travelers insurance, and with three days in intensive care, everything added up quickly. But here’s the worst part — the couple was literally held hostage over the bill, even though they tried to make plans to pay for it in installments when they were back home.

That’s when Tyler came to the rescue. The story gained media traction, and Tyler Perry got wind. His representatives said he would cover the couple’s hospital bill and fly them home.

Let’s take a step back and think about this story. This incident could have happened to anyone. Tori told People that they literally locked the windows of the room, physically preventing them from walking out on the bill.

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It makes a horrifying situation even worse. Without Tyler Perry to help them out, they may have been stuck on board for quite some time. “It’s been a nightmare. We just want to come home,” she told WGCL, per People.

The couple appeared on Good Morning America, which is how Tyler Perry got involved. “Today I am thankful for and will always be thankful for Tyler Perry,” Tori told her Facebook followers. Without a doubt, he earned a couple more fans after helping them out.

Tori’s Facebook page also revealed that she’s trying hard to change the rules, ensuring that nobody else has to go through what her and her fiancé went through. “We will be working to get policies changes so no one else will have to go through this,” she said. “Our Fight just begun.”

Tori also made it clear on Facebook that this won’t prevent her or Stephen from traveling again, especially to Mexico. “What is going on with Stephen has nothing to do with the entire country, it has to do with this particular hospital,” she wrote, adding that “we were unaware that this particular hospital and administration staff have been known to take Americans passports and hold them for payment.”

According to People, Stephen was being held at Progreso hospital. Carnival also reportedly stated to the publication that it had a passenger on board who needed treatment. The cruise line confirmed that he “was required to seek medical treatment in Progreso.”

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My last sunset at 49

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Tyler Perry primarily works out of Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Before becoming a highly paid writer and star, he wrote his first play and saved every penny to stage it. While known best for being a movie, Madea on the Run was originally written as a play.

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When I first saw the land that is my new studio it had been abandoned for years. 10 foot tall grass, snakes, coyotes, etc... but where others saw dilapidation, I saw hope. I saw promise. Several advisors told me not to do it. They gave many reasons. It’s a money pit, timing isn’t right, and so on. But I sat there and prayed about it. I came to peace with it, and I bought it. Now, every day I drive in and see thousands of people working there; working in my dream to build their own. To think that all of my hard work and a lot of God’s grace have met me at the door of all that I dreamed humbles me to tears. I’m so full with gratitude every day. I can’t help but look back on my life and remember all the dark days. The first 28 years of my life were miserable. So much so that I was suicidal. I was so tired of living my life in pieces when all I wanted to do was live my life in peace. My biggest issue and question was this “God, why would you put all of these dreams inside of me and not show me a way to accomplish them.” Nonetheless, I kept working and I kept pressing. What I didn’t know at the time was that every step I was taking was moving me closer to my goal (even the ones that I thought were setbacks). But I kept pressing. Today I want to challenge all the dreamers reading this. I want to challenge you to keep pressing. GET THERE! GET IT DONE!! I know you can. No matter your age, no matter your circumstances, you too can make it. When you pray, believe!!

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The House of Payne creator came through in such a big way. While he doesn’t seem to have any money issues today, he likely remembered the days when life wasn’t so easy. The fact that he donated money shows that he’s still in tune with society, and he realizes that the simple goal of staying healthy can be hard.

He’s also easily accessible to his fans. He’s on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, meaning that he’s open to connecting with people in different ways. He didn’t even make a point to tweet about his donation, meaning that he did it from the kindness of his heart.

Getting Tyler Perry involved also means that this situation got a lot more media attention than it may have otherwise. While the couple was able to score the Good Morning America segment, Tyler’s name in the headlines made the story go viral. Hopefully, it’ll make certain hospitals change the way they run business.

Nobody should be scared that an otherwise-fun trip will leave them stuck in another country, or bankrupt. The bill was much higher than it should have been. But the fact that they were forced to pay in full upfront is just ludicrous.

Even Tori had no clue that Stephen would receive such a terrible diagnosis. “I thought he just had motion sickness because he had never been on a cruise before,” she said to AJC. “I was like, ‘Quit being a baby. You’re OK.'”


Travelers insurance may seem like a nuisance, but if you’re traveling overseas, some believe it’s necessary. Nobody expects to get sick when they’re out, but buying the insurance can save you thousands if you do. It’ll probably be the first thing that Stephen and Tori invest in before embarking on another trip.

Tyler Perry’s next television series is currently in production. It’s called Bruh, and there’s currently expected to be at least six episodes that’ll air on BET’s streaming service. Tori and Stephen will probably end up watching it multiple times, helping support the man who supported them.