Charles Gregory, Celebrity Hairstylist and Frequent Tyler Perry Collaborator, Dies of Coronavirus

Perry mourned “loving and hilarious” artist on Instagram and encouraged black people to test for virus

Charles Gregory
Photo credit: Charles Gregory/YouTube

Charles Gregory, an Emmy-nominated hairstylist who frequently collaborated with Tyler Perry on his films and TV shows, died of complications from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Gregory shared on social media two weeks earlier that he had tested positive for the virus and was moved into the hospital. His death was mourned by filmmakers like Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay and Lee Daniels, with whom he was most recently working on Daniels’ film “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday.”

“He was a BRILLIANT hairstylist and did his MAGIC,” Daniels said in an Instagram post. “Whenever l complained about anyone’s hair he’d say ‘lemme just slap some grease on it.. it’ll be ok.’ And it was!!! The virus took him today. Please say a prayer for this wonderful man and his family.”

“Mr. Charles Gregory was a hairstylist that had worked with us for many years. The man was warm, loving and hilarious,” Perry wrote in an Instagram tribute. “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.”

Gregory worked on numerous Perry projects, including “Madea Goes to Jail,” “Meet the Browns,” “The Family That Preys” and most recently the Sundance drama from this year “Zola,” which Perry produced. His other film work included “Drumline,” “Idlewild” and “Vice.” He was a Primetime Emmy nominee in 2005 for Outstanding Hairstyling for “Lackawanna Blues.

Ava DuVernay shared her love on Gregory’s Instagram after he passed on what would be his last post, a photo of himself in the hospital.

“God bless you and keep you in His Kingdom forever. You lit up every room you entered and every path you crossed,” DuVernay said. “Thank you for your warmth and your wisdom and your wonderful spirit. Please watch over us and keep loving us. We will keep loving you and will never forget you. Your memory will be our blessing.”

Perry likewise used the tribute to Gregory as an opportunity to urge the black community to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously. Perry pointed out that African Americans are dying at a disproportionately higher rate from the coronavirus than anyone else and that any rumors that black people cannot contract the virus are a lie.

“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,” Perry said in an Instagram post late Wednesday. “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.”

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier in the week that in Chicago, black residents have died at a rate six times higher than that of white residents and have contributed to 68% of the cities deaths, even though the black population is only roughly 30% of the city. Black people have also been found to have higher death rates from the virus in Los Angeles and New York City.

Perry said black people must continue to practice social distancing and remain at home whenever possible.

“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,” Perry said. “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.”

See more of the online tributes to Gregory below: