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Cicely Tyson posing and smiling at a red carpet event. She has a white, furry coat on and her arms are spread out flamboyantly. She has short grey hair.

Oprah, Ava, The Obamas & More Share Words Of Love For Icon, Cicely Tyson

The entertainment industry is remembering trailblazing Hollywood and Broadway star Cicely Tyson who has passed away, aged 96.

The sad news was announced by her family via her manager Larry Thompson:

“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon.”

Miss Tyson made her film debut in 1957 with a small role in Twelve Angry Men and powerfully refused roles during the 60’s which exploited Black people.

She went on to have a career spanning more than seven decades and won a number of awards including three Emmys, an honorary Academy Award and in 2013, at the age of 88, scored her first Tony. Plus she released her memoir Just As I Am, this week! (You can purchase your copy HERE*.)

But it’s the impact she had on all those she met and all those who looked up to her that reveals what a force Miss Tyson truly was – and will continue to be for generations to come.


Media queen, Oprah Winfrey describes the legacy of “Greatness” (with a capital G!) Miss Tyson leaves behind:

“Cecily decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.”

Oprah also shared how much of an honour it was to have Miss Tyson attending her Legends Ball in 2005.

“I loved her hat so much, she sent it to me afterwards.”

Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay shared a series of photos of her giving Miss Tyson a hug at various industry events and captioned the pics with a beautiful message about bravery, encouragement and love:

“Your hugs I’ll remember. How your petite arms wrapped around me like mighty branches of a sunlit tree, strong and warm. Your laugh I’ll remember. How it came easily and heartily and sounded like good music. Your work I’ll remember. How your brave portrayals transformed the way the world witnessed Black women, whether they could accept what you shared or not. Your words I’ll remember. How each time I hung up the phone, I’d write them down so as not to forget the precious jewels of encouragement and wisdowm you gifted me. Your love I’ll remember. You loved me for some reason. You told me so often. I thank you for that forever and I’ll carry your love with me as I go. Bless you as you journey ahead, Your Majesty.”


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A post shared by Ava DuVernay (@ava)

Former US President Barack Obama who gave Miss Tyson the Medal of Freedom, recalls not only her extraordinary career but also her extraordinary heart:

“When Cicely Tyson was born, doctors predicted she wouldn’t make it three months because of a murmur in her heart. What they didn’t know, what they couldn’t know, was that Cicely had a heart unlike any other – the kind that would not only beat for 96 more years but leave a mark on the world that few could match.”


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Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared an equally loving message , describing Miss Tyson’s “humanity” as what made her stand out the most:

“Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her. 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. I’ll miss her dearly, but I smile knowing how many people she inspired, just like me, to walk a little taller, speak a little more freely and live a little bit more like God intended.”


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A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama)

Actor, director and producer Tyler Perry shared a photo of himself embracing Miss Tyson as they both laughed.

In a post on Instagram he describes the moment Oprah called him to tell him Miss Tyson had passed away: “This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly and your very presence.”

He describes Miss Tyson as “always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen.”


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A post shared by Tyler Perry (@tylerperry)

Actress and singer Zendaya took to Twitter to share her love:

“This one hurts, today we honour and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cecily Tyson. Rest in great power.”

Actress Regina King shared a black and white photo of Miss Tyson on Instagram and praised the late for paving the path for so many young Black girls:

“QUEEN somehow just doesn’t capture MS TYSON. Her legacy has left an indelible mark. She paved a way that created a space for girls like me to feel the light. Thank you GODDESS CICELY.”


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A post shared by Regina King (@iamreginaking)

Screenplay queen Shonda Rhimes shared a selfie with Miss Tyson and describes her as an “extraordinary person”.

“And this is an extraordinary loss. She had so much to teach. And I still have so much to learn. I am grateful for every moment. Her power and grace will be with us forever.”


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A post shared by Shonda Rhimes (@shondarhimes)

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist star Peter Gallagher worked with Miss Tyson in The Corn is Green on Broadway and describes her as “mesmerising, so beautiful and regal.”

Academy Award winner Viola Davis says she’s “devastated” and “heartbroken.”

“You were everything to me!” she writes on Instagram.

“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….because it was only in my dreams that I could see the possibilities in myself. I’m not ready for you to be my angel yet. But….I also understand that it’s only when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that you’ll truly be dead. In that case, you will be immortal. Thank you for shifting my life. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for loving me.”


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(Feature Image Credit: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com)

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