Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center »Cicely Tyson honored as Iconic Performance

Cicely Tyson is remembered as an iconic performer

Colleagues, fans praised the actress who died at a young age

By Juliet Bennett Raila

Contributed author

This week saw a surge of love, admiration and respect for Sicily Tyson, the acclaimed TV, film, and theater star who captivated audiences with her interrupt-acting performances.

Tyson died on January 28 at the age of 28.

Her death sparked comments from fans and the entertainment business that inspired her 70-year career.

“Miss Tyson was an international treasure,” said Sandra J. Said Evers-Mani, founder and co-founder of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center. “She was iconic, she was queen and queen both on and off stage.

“He excelled after a show of great strength and great dignity,” Evers-Manley added in a statement. “She made us proud and her life is very enjoyable. We appreciate that he always represents paving the way for others. “

Tyson’s newest role was as a mother of the Viola Davis character in the ABC legal drama “How to Viv Murder,” as lawyer Annalise Keating.

In her Instagram“In a world where you still love and have seen and valued me, we still have the invisible costume for dark chocolate girls,” Davis wrote. You allowed me to dream … because it is only in my dreams that I can see the possibilities in myself. ”

Part of Tyson’s legacy and his influence on black actors was how special he was about the roles he would take on, albeit without a role. She refused to participate in Blast Exploitation films or roles that she did not feel.

In an interview with Parade magazine in 1972, she said, “We black actresses play so many prostitutes and drug addicts and housewives, negatively. I will no longer play such a role, even if I have to go back to starvation.”

He Told NPR Her choice was promoting the movie “Sounder” from movie 122 during the press conference. A white journalist said he was surprised when a black boy called his father “Daddy” in the film, the same moniker used by his children that forced them to face prejudice about what it looked like to be a black family.

“He can’t prove that this guy was on the same level,” Tyson said. “And I really admired her standing in the audience and I said to myself, ‘Sicily, you can’t really be an actress.’

Gil Robertson, CEO of the African American Film Critics Association, which awarded Tyson the Special Achievement Award in 2013, highlighted the incident in a statement on Tyson’s death.

“From that moment on, she became a character through whom she could flow all the dignity as a black man, a black woman,” Robertson said. “She will always be remembered as a trailblazer and advocate for civil rights and women’s rights. We are inspired by her talent and her level of excellence. “

Ayuk Babu, founder of the Pan African Film and Art Festival (PAFF), said he had seen Tyson in the 1663 6363 CBS drama “East Side / West Side” when he was a teenager. Tyson played the role of secretary of social workers in New York, the first black actor to co-star in a TV drama.

As a high school student in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I was amazed that he wore natural clothes – he didn’t have hair, “said the father.” It was a powerful message to me. [be yourself, know yourself] And it’s been one of the guiding principles of my life ever since. If I hadn’t gotten the message to him, I would have seriously doubted if I had even thought or helped him with the African Film and Art Festival. “

Due to the ongoing epidemic, this year’s festival will run from February 28 to March 1 through. The father said Tyson would be greeted at the festival.

Former President Barack Obama, who presented Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the 201st President’s Day, said Tyson was “one of the rare award-winning artists who could have only succeeded if she had worked on screen.”

“His heart was different than any other – and for 96 years he left an impression on the world that few people will ever meet,” he added.

Vice President Kamala Harris said,Cicely Tyson broke the barrier and paved the way for many. She inspired the world with her art, activism and philanthropy. ”

U.S. Rip considers Tyson a friend. Maxine Waters called him “one of the most profound, talented and famous actors in the industry. She was a serious actor, [a] Beautiful and spiritual woman who unlocked the key to longevity in her lifetime. ”

Actor Morgan Freeman said, “He was truly an extraordinary person. He had power, integrity and grace in everything, and his purpose was always to represent.”

Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson called Tyson an icon and a showstopper.

“You broke the open industry for all of us and thank you so much for that and for that,” she said.

Tyson was born in East Harlem, New York, to William Augustine and Frederica Tyson, who came to the United States from the West Indies.

She worked as a fashion model before embarking on a long career on stage and screen. From her first TV role in an episode of NBC’s “Frontiers of the Eighth” in 1951, she went on to earn dozens of credits, including “Roots” (1977); “A Woman Called Moses” (1978 88), where she portrayed Harriet Tubman; “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991-1991), “Diary of a Crazy Black Woman” (2005), “The Help” (2011) and many more.

In 1972, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the play “Sounder,” in which she played a participant in Louisiana’s Rebecca Morgan in the 1930s. After her husband was arrested for stealing food for her hunger, she had to demolish a farm herself. Family

Two years later, Tyson took two Emmies home for her title in the movie “Miss Jane Pitman’s Autography.” Set during the 1960s civil rights movement, the film portrays Tyson as a 110-year-old captive woman who tells the story of her life. Tyson’s brilliant performances – and special effects makeup – ranged in age from 2 to 110.

1 1979. In In, Tyson became the first black woman to host “Saturday Night Live.” In 2013, at 88 years old, she became the oldest person in history to win a Tony Award for her performance in “Tree to Benevolent”. She received an honorary Oscar in 2018 and a career achievement pabody in 2020, among many other awards.

Tyson was mostly quiet about her private life. She said she had never drunk, nor had she smoked, and had been a vegetarian, mostly, since the 1960s.

1 69. In, she co-founded the Harlem Dance Theater with Arthur Mitchell and Karel Schuck. Between 1981 and 1989, she married jazz composer Miles Davis. She has a daughter from her previous marriage but refrains from using her daughter’s real name in public so that her privacy can be maintained.

A few days before his death, Tyson released his memoir, “Like I Am.” Interviewer Gail King, taking an interview on the promotion of the book “CBS This Morning”, asked Tyson what he should remember about her.

“I did my best,” Tyson said.

Juliet Bennett Raila is a freelance reporter covering Hollywood and West Hollywood. He can be reached

This article was originally published in February, 2020: Cicely Tyson is remembered as the iconic artist of Wavenewspapers (

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