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Trailblazing Actress and Icon Cicely Tyson Passes Away At Age 96

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Celebrity News

Cicely Tyson was the epitome of an everyday queen, a woman whose regality came so naturally that it flowed, effortlessly, through everything she did and to everyone she touched.

No matter the role, from Sounder to The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, from the pages of Ebony to the biggest Broadway stages adn screens, Cicely Tyson was all of us -- and for all of us.

She was unapologetically Black, but in a way that made others jealous that they weren’t. Tyson made being Black a privileged birthright, showing us that we were chosen, treasured keepers of a magnificent ancestry and forgers of a rich, proud history.

In an interview, Tyson told of the moment she first realized that her life and career were much bigger than just her own. She spoke of an interviewer being shocked that a Black boy in her film called his father “Daddy.” It was at that moment she realized that the man interviewing her didn’t even see Black people as human.

Some might have confronted the man, internalized that disrespect or even shrugged off the moment. Tyson, however, used it as her lifelong mantra.

“And it was at that time that I decided I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress. There were certain issues I had to address and I would use my career as my platform.”

And so her trajectory became a pathway of stardom for Black people, and especially Black women. She carefully chose her roles and poured herself into showing how we shine, persevere, and blossom in both the best and worst of whatever life throws at us.

Tyson began her career as a model before stepping into acting, and she took on one of her most famous roles in her late 40s. The bulk of her entertainment career happened in her 50s and beyond, an absolutely incredible fact when you look at her during those roles. She defied age and took amazing care of her body and mind.

Her legendary filmography is so wide and deep that cannot be captured all in one space, stretching her Oscar-nominated performance in 1972’s Sounder to winning a Tony Award at age 88. Tyson took home the best leading actress in a play for the revival of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful.

In 2018, she was given an honorary Oscar statuette at the annual Governors Awards. “I come from lowly status. I grew up in an area that was called the slums at the time,” Tyson said at the time. “I still cannot imagine that I have met with presidents, kings, queens. How did I get here? I marvel at it.”

Even at 96, Tyson was still going strong. Just two days before her passing, she released her memoir Just As I Am and was set to do a virtual book tour and press, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legends live forever, and so even as Ms. Tyson transitions, we can’t help but smile and shed thankful, grateful tears for her legacy that now fills our souls. Our Black is beautiful, brilliant, and unbreakable, and we now “take our place” -- as she commanded -- to firmly plant this knowledge in the next generations.



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