Yesterday, on-screen legend Cicely Tyson died at 96 years old. Around the entertainment world, celebrities and stars have poured in their condolences and respects to the racial justice pioneer. Among these stars was Bette Midler, who paid her respects via Twitter earlier today.
“Goodbye to the extraordinary #CicelyTyson,” Bette Midler said on Twitter. “Who climbed into our hearts and made a home for herself there. A big, beautiful, magnanimous soul with a big, beautiful talent. I met her only once. We knitted together. I’ll never forget it.”
While Bette Midler only met Cicely Tyson once, the progress that Tyson accomplished in her career certainly rubbed off on Midler. Tyson’s career not only paved the road for Black actors and actresses to have a place in Hollywood but also helped females solidify lead roles in major films.
Cicely Tyson: Activist and Icon
Cicely Tyson started her career on the screen in the early 1970s. She was one of the first Black female actresses to gain momentum in Hollywood and the American cinema industry. In a particularly whitewashed period of time in American cinematic history, Cicely Tyson led the charge for Black actors.
Despite the fact that it was difficult for Black people to land lead roles in Hollywood, Tyson found a home in American hearts.
The legendary screen performer always chose quality over quantity in her career, choosing to take on roles that she deemed worthy despite the paycheck. She took pride in her selectivity in her lead roles, never prioritizing money over the quality of the role.
“I’m very selective as I’ve been my whole career about what I do. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person who works only for money. It has to have some real substance for me to do it,” she told The Associated Press in 2013.
She was not the only one who recognized the power and importance of her career. Former President Barrack Obama, who awarded Cicely Tyson the Medal of Freedom, also weighed in on her career.
“She took pride in knowing that whenever her face was on camera, she would be playing a character who was a human being — flawed but resilient; perfect not despite but because of their imperfections,”