Last night, we learned one of our most celebrated talents transcended into a higher place. Prolific actress and fashion model Cicely Tyson passed away at 96 years old. The legendary entertainer’s death was announced by her longtime manager, Larry Thompson, according to NPR.
Tyson’s career in Hollywood spanned decades, including starring in notable television shows and feature films such as Sounder, The Women of Brewster Place, and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
In addition to her impact on Hollywood and her glorious career in theater, Tyson’s talents transcended into a new generation with memorable appearances in moves like Tyler Perry’s Madea Family Reunion. Tyson was known for shattering stereotypes and always exemplifying excellence in everything she did, leaving a lasting legacy that influenced the next generation of Black actors.
In recognition of that impact, Black Enterprise honored Tyson with a Legacy Award at our Women of Power Summit in 2014.
This week, Tyson released her highly anticipated autobiography, Just As I Am: A Memoir. Many in Hollywood shared their respects for the actress on social media, expressing their gratitude for her being able to share her story before her passing.
“I have wanted her to do this for many years, and she finally has. At 90 (debatable) something years old, Ms. Cicely Tyson finally tells her story,” wrote Perry in an Instagram post about Tyson’s memoir. “Now listen to me, all of us who are complaining about where we are need to read this book. This woman is a national treasure that is still as sharp as ever and has gifted us with a peek into her life, her love, her struggles, and her hopes.”
Tyson, who loved her craft with a beautiful passion, will forever be remembered for her impact on Black representation in Hollywood. In one of her final interviews with Zora, she discussed the importance for creatives to preserve and not give up on themselves.
“You can’t put limits on yourself. You really can’t,” said Tyson. “The moment you begin to question if you’re going to make it, you’re putting limits on yourself. Just focus on your journey and stay on that track. Don’t let anyone or anything deter you from that. It’s not what people do to you, it’s what you let them do to you.”