Tyler Perry took to social media to share a touching video tribute in honor of “the grandmother he never had,” the late actress Cicely Tyson.
Following the death of the 96-year-old Emmy and Tony-winning actress, Perry expressed his reaction to the news of her passing Thursday.
A Final Goodbye Watching Cicely Perform On-Screen
Tyler states as he was working on the day of Cicely’s death, he felt the sudden urge to watch The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, the 1974 television drama that earned Tyson two Emmys for her portrayal of the 110-year-old former slave. Perry says he hadn’t seen the movie in years but felt a sudden and overwhelming urge to stop what he was doing and watch.
“I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway,” says the influential producer, director, actor, and screenwriter. “Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died.”
Tyler Perry Honors the Life of a Beloved Friend
He shared an Instagram post comprised of photos filled with memories the two shared. In the caption, Perry says, “this one brought me to my knees!”
After his initial post of mourning, Perry released a short video on Twitter and Instagram depicting those precious moments the two spent together, as they joke, laugh, and embrace one another. Also included in the video are clips of Cicely’s many performances in films, as well as a small piece of her acceptance speech upon receiving her Emmy awards.
Perry and Tyson shared a close relationship that ran much deeper than the film industry. Instead, it was a personal and familial love as Tyler explains how Cicely felt like a grandmother to him.
“Grandmother” and “Wisdom Tree”
“She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup,” Perry writes in his post. “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,” he continues. “Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”
Others Praise the Career and Life of Cicely Tyson
Tyson has been honored on social media by co-stars, others within the industry, and the public. Not only is her award-winning acting being celebrated, but she is being remembered for her big heart, kindness, and virtue as a person.
Along with Perry, former president Barack Obama and colleagues Viola Davis, Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, Gabrielle Union, LeVar Burton, and many others celebrate the actress’s success in both her career and personal life.
A true legend and trailblazer, Tyson made history as the first African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy receiving two awards for the 1974 television drama The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Her career spanned over seven decades during which she would receive 16 Emmy nominations, receiving five in a row for her character Ophelia Harkness on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.
She would continue a successful career for many more years as she earned a Tony in 2013 for A Trip to Bountiful and an Honorary Oscar in 2018.