Cicely Tyson, American actress and trailblazer, has died aged ninety-six.
And the news has hit us all pretty hard.
I'm devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream... https://t.co/7V7AFZtFLa pic.twitter.com/l2TLfM4weX— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2021
Tributes have been pouring in from fans and celebrities alike.
She was the personification of beauty, grace, wisdom, and strength, carrying forward a flame that not only guided her for 96 pathbreaking years but lit the way for so many of us.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) January 29, 2021
In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match. pic.twitter.com/JRsL3zlKtP— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 29, 2021
A force in her industry who opened the door for so many to follow. There will never be another with the poise, class, and talent of Cicely Tyson.— Netflix (@netflix) January 29, 2021
Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/z9N72BLdUh
After a long and magnificent life capped by the publication of her autobiography two days ago, Cicely Tyson has died at 96. What a pioneer, what a presence, what an actress, what a loss.— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 29, 2021
Stunned to hear that Cicely Tyson had joined the ancestors. Words like “trailblazer,” “genius,” and “legend” are shamefully insufficient when describing Ms. Tyson. May she rest in perfect peace.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) January 29, 2021
So saddened by the loss of Cicely Tyson....A gentle soul, immensely talented and so thoroughly dignified. She brought so much life to the characters she played, and their voices...her voice...will always be with us.— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 29, 2021
Today we mourn a legend, a pioneer, an icon. rest easy Cicely Tyson🕊️#CicelyTyson— Cupid Selff 🌈 (@esther_eino) January 29, 2021
Now, Cicely Tyson was known for being a trailblazer in the world of TV and film.
With a career spanning over 7 decades, the actress had a career that many could only dream of having.
Not only was she an incredible actress in her own right, she also opened the door for other Black women to follow after her.
Tyson's career started flourishing at a time when the constraints of social inequality were still ravaging the Black community.
But even in such difficult times, she became the first Black woman to take on a main role in the TV drama East Side/West Side in the 60s.
Then a decade later, she went on to win 2 Emmys for her incredible performance in the civil rights-era film The Autobiography, playing Miss Jane Pittman.
Her ideal roles moved away from Black stereotypes, which were so often perpetuated through media at the time.
She focussed on roles that conveyed strength, talent and realistic attributes in characters.
One notable role has to be her portrayal of Ophelia Harkness on ABC's How To Get Away With Murder.
She played Annalise Keating's [Viola Davis] mother for 6-years and showed us how complex the role of a mother can be, especially when it comes to protecting her children.
When asked about the series finally coming to a close, she said: "I don't like goodbyes. I don't like endings, so I rarely ever think about anything that I'm doing as ending." She also added that she would miss her on-screen daughter "very deeply."
Shonda Rhimes, who produced the hit show released a tribute in which she referred to the late actress as an "extraordinary person."
She continued: "Her power and grace will be with us forever."
But Tyson's career didn't solely focus on acting...
She was also a fashion model. In the late 50s, she was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and due to her beautiful looks and her overwhelming charisma, she quickly found fame in the industry.
She was so iconic that in 2016, Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This achievement wasn't just to highlight her esteemed acting skills, it was also to recognize how she managed to re-mold the foundations of history in order to accept her and other upcoming Black actresses.
So it's with the greatest sadness that we must accept the news of her passing.
Her manager, Larry Thompson announced the news on Thursday night.
He said this:
"With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy."
"Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a star, on top of the tree," Thompson added that she died peacefully.
No cause of death has yet been revealed.
Tyson's memoir was published only 2 days prior to her death and outlines moments, both public and personal, that defined her life.
May she rest in power.
The world has lost another icon.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this extremely difficult period.