Cicely Tyson, the trailblazing and award-winning actress who broke down racial barriers in Hollywood in the 1960s, passed away on Thursday at the age of 96, her family announced in a statement.
With a career spanning over six decades, Tyson influenced several seasoned Black Hollywood actors and filmmakers including Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Viola Davis, Ava DuVernay, just to mention a few.
A model before becoming an actress, Tyson is well-known for playing the characters of powerful African-American women, as portrayed in the widely-patronized 1970s television mini-series, Roots.
Her first big-screen role was in 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, starring actor Alan Arkin. She would later star in films such as The River Niger, Fried Green Tomatoes, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Help, Alex Cross and Last Flag Flying.
For her over 60-year-career, the prolific actress has received a Kennedy Center Honor, a Tony, and multiple Emmy awards, where she became the first Black woman to win Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie in 1974. Two years earlier, in 1972, she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in Sounder. She also made history in 2018 when she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar.
Despite an illustrious career that saw her receive several accolades and honors, Tyson said receiving the Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama in 2016 was her biggest accomplishment, CNN reported. She described it as “the most important thing that could happen to me.”
“I am one of three children, grew up in the area that is now known as El Barrio and that was the East Side (of New York),” she said on the Steve TV Show in 2017. “To come from there to the White House with the first black President … to put that medal around my neck: Where can you go from there?”
To celebrate her legacy, Face2Face Africa shares with you 10 of her most inspiring quotes: