In the wake of news regarding the passing of Cicely Tyson, celebrities took to social media to honor the legacy of a woman who paved the way for Black actors everywhere. Her delightful and positive spirit flooded every timeline from Twitter to Instagram as fans took time to reflect on her contributions to the entertainment industry.
The Black elite pulled out their fondest memories of Ms. Tyson over the years. From Niecy Nash to the Obamas and everyone in between, touching tributes, memorable stories, and funny moments were shared for fans to see.
CBS this Morning posted an interview between Cicely Tyson and Gayle King. In the clip, Ms. Cicely humbly explains that she never knew her life and career would have this kind of impact on others.
In the interview Gayle asks, “What does it feel like to be 96 and a legend, Ms. Legend?” Ms. Cicely responded, “I’m amazed every single day I live.” “Do you feel like you have more to do?” Gayle asked. “Yes! That’s why I’m still here. I mean, what my life became is not what I expected. I had no idea that I would touch anybody,” she responded. “When the time comes, what do you want us to remember about you?” asked Gayle. “I’ve done my best. That’s all,” she responded.
Ms. Cicely did more than her best. She inspired a world of dreamers to press on despite the valleys ahead of them. As we continue to celebrate her life, take a look at what her peers had to say about the legacy she is leaving behind.
1. TYLER PERRY
Tyler Perry’s love for Cicely Tyson ran deep. He loved casting her in his films as the older, wiser grandmother that would advise the younger generations. The actor, director and producer explains that he was led to watch one of her movies when he learned that the legendary actress had passed away.
Oprah paid tribute to Ms. Cicely by recalling her favorite moment with her. Back in 2005 at the Legends Ball, Oprah wanted honor her and along with other trailblazing Black women. As they embraced, Oprah mentioned loving Cicely’s hat. Shortly after the event, Oprah received the beautiful white hat in the mail.
3. BARACK OBAMA
Cicely Tyson lived through a lot of adversity. With 70 years in the entertainment industry, she’s experienced every side of the spectrum as far as our country’s history with racism. Despite her journey, she lived to see a Black president in office for 8 years.
Our former president Barack Obama gave Ms. Cicely Tyson the Medal of Freedom, they highest badge of honor given to a civilian.
4. MICHELLE OBAMA
Michelle Obama took time to speak to Ms. Cicely’s character. Beyond her presence on stage was her character as a person. Both Michelle and Barack speak to her gentle, soothing soul and her talent for elevating everyone’s spirit with her presence.
5. AVA DUVERNAY
Ava DuVernay’s touching tribute read almost poetically to the amazing woman that Ms. Cicely Tyson was. From her joyful smile to her strong hugs, she was more than just an actress. This woman served as a residential grandmother to the Black actors and actresses of Hollywood.
6. MICHAEL B JORDAN
Actor Michael B. Jordan kept it short and sweet by thanking the actress for paving the way for people like himself.
7. WHOOPI GOLDBERG
Whoopi Goldberg speaks to the timeliness of Ms. Cicely’s memoir. As if to say, “I’ve said all I needed to say, now its time for me to go.” Whoopi shared a few photos of moments the two actresses had together.
8. SHONDA RHIMES
Shonda Rhimes paid tribute by acknowledging all the wisdom Ms. Cicely had to share. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with and it is clear Black Hollywood has taken a major blow with this loss.
9. MARTIN LAWRENCE
Martin Lawrence shared a few touching words about the loss of Ms. Cicely.
10. TARJI P HENSON
Taraji P. Henson acknowledged that Ms. Cicely paved the way for herself and others as Black actresses in the industry. Through her memoir, we can learn of the fight that Ms. Cicely endured so that today’s actresses could land the roles they deserved to play. While there’s still a long way to go as far as Black representation goes, people like Tyler Perry, Oprah, and Ava DuVernay are using their position to tell Black stories, cast Black actors, and adhere to appropriate compensation.
11. VIOLA DAVIS
Viola Davis’ tribute is by far the most touching for me. “You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls.” The entertainment industry has never been that fond of women with darker skin, even in Black Hollywood. Ms. Cicely’s longevity and perseverance pushed past those biases and showed the world just how beautiful Black woman are.
12. STEVE HARVEY
“If it were not for her, there would not be many of us. PERIOD!!!” Steve Harvey wrote.
13. JENIFER LEWIS
“I don’t have to tell them to go vote. They know they’re supposed vote. Come on, now!” Ms. Cicely said in a clip with Jenifer Lewis. Although the post rang true, it’s cute to see her sassy side. Watching this, I felt like my grandmother was lovingly scolding me for thinking about not doing something I know I’m supposed to do.
14. NIECY NASH
Niecy Nash recalled the kind words that Ms. Cicely shared with her after her performance in When They See Us. The monumental mini series spoke to the troubling history of Black people being targeted and unfairly treated by the system. This experience is not unique to the 5 men who were wrongly accused of assaulting and raping a young woman in Central Park. Unfortunately, Ms. Cicely witnessed a lot of this and more during her 96 years on earth.