Celebrate the Life of Actress Cicely TysonFeb 02, 2021 08:00AM ● By Kassidy Garland
TV, Film, and Stage actress, Cicely Tyson, was born on December 19 1924 in Harlem, New York. Over the course of her near 70 year career, Tyson was the recipient of numerous awards for efforts.
Tyson grew up in a modest, religious household, and was not permitted to attend theatre or watch movies, so when she left a typing job at the age of 18, her parents were furious. Mr. and Mrs. Tyson believed her new career path to be sinful, and they kicked her out of the house. Cicely Tyson would restore her relationship with her family in two years.
Tyson made great success as an actress even becoming the first African American star of a TV drama in her 1963 role as secretary Jane Foster in East Side/West Side. She was then nominated for an Academy Award for Sounder in 1972.
After receiving her Academy Award, she portrayed a number of her most famous roles including, Kunta Kinte’s mother in Roots, and Jane Pittman in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, for which she won two Emmy Awards in 1974. Cicely Tyson also performed on Broadway, most notably in The Corn Is Green. Soon after she won her third Emmy award for her role in Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.
Her most recent roles include Constantine Bates in The Help, multiple Tyler Perry movies, and The Trip to Bountiful on Broadway. She has also appeared on the critically acclaimed, How To Get Away With Murder.
Although Cicely Tyson had an overall successful career, she sometimes struggled to find roles, as she was very specific about the ones she accepted. She refused to be a part of any film that she considered to be “blaxploitation”, or an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film. She wanted the roles that she portrayed to be important. She wanted them to truly mean something.
Among her numerous acting awards, Tyson became a member of Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1977. She has also been honored by the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Council of Negro Women, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 2016, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor, by President Barack Obama for her contributions.
Cicely Tyson passed away on January 28, 2021, a short while after turning 96. We celebrate and honor Cicely Tyson for an incredible life and career.
Among her credits as an actress, Cicely Tyson was very involved in her community. Tyson helped to educate those around her. She co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem, and even insisted on teaching master classes at a school that wanted to honor her.