How sister-synergy led to meeting a Hollywood legend
By Germaine Edwards, Ph.D.
If you’re blessed in life, you are given sisters — whether they’re biological sisters or sisters from another mister. All sisters, when we come together, we get great synergy — sister synergy, if you will.
Well, that sister-synergy took some of those sisters and myself on a journey that we will never forget. We started discussing a love of classic films and who we love in classic films.
That led us on a journey — a birthday road trip to Los Angeles and the opportunity to witness history in the making as the legendary actress and advocate Cicely Tyson received her due.
The then 93-years young Tyson was honored with a hand and footprint outdoor ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX forecourt during the 2018 Turner Classic Movies film festival.
She was regal, graceful, and petite in stature, but a giant of a personality. She commanded the spaces she entered whether outdoors being viewed by hundreds or indoors in a studio where she was being interviewed about her incredible life’s journey.
We had the awesome opportunity to be in the audience for several of Tyson’s interviews. She managed to recant stories with detail that I couldn’t even do with ginkgo biloba.
She remembered every detail, color, person’s name, who was involved. She weaved a tapestry as she wove you into the story that she was sharing. Remarkable! We were in awe.
We had the opportunity to not only witness her have her moment where Hollywood and the rest of the world recognized her greatness, but we also had the opportunity to watch one of her movies, “Sounder,” while Tyson was in the audience.
Who knew that a year later for our birthday road trip the sisters and I once again would have the opportunity to be in the presence of the great Cicely Tyson? We went on a cruise to Bermuda. To agree to go on the trip with my sisters was a story in and of itself. We will save that story for another time.
While on the cruise, we tried not to fan out too much when we saw Tyson. We had the golden opportunity of not only meeting her and saying hello, but also showing her our respect for her craft and how we’ve honored her in our own way during the Turner Classic Movies events.
Tyson said she liked hugs, so she reached out her arms and gave us a hug.
She was also gracious enough to pose for photographs. We told her how much we admired her work and how much we respected and appreciated what she had done for the image of not only Black women, but for African Americans in general.
On January 28, 2021, the world lost a bright light when Cicely Tyson transitioned at the age of 96. My sisters and I were heartbroken, along with the rest of the world.
Every kind word that the seasoned and budding journalists, talk show hosts, and Twitter-sphere, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms have said about how indefatigable, how regal and inspiring and talented and sharing and giving Tyson was has all been confirmed by my brief but memorable encounters with her.
Model, actress, activist, and trailblazer Tyson used her celebrity platform to shine a spotlight on many societal issues. She portrayed actual, real-life, socially conscious, strong women. In the miniseries “King,” Tyson portrayed Coretta Scott King. She also portrayed the lead role in “The Marva Collins Story.”
A star of stage and screen, Tyson enjoyed a career spanning over 70 years in entertainment. Among her most memorable, well-known works are “The Autobiography of Ms. Jane Pittman,” “Sounder,” the mini-series “Roots,”and “A Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway.
Proving that “age ain’t nothing but a number,” in 2017, at the age of 89, Tyson became a Tony Award-winner for her role in “A Trip to Bountiful.” In 2018, at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, Tyson became the first Black woman to ever receive an honorary Oscar at 93 years old. In 2020, at the age of 95, Ms. Tyson was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
She received multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, Black Reel Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, Tony Award, an honorary Academy Award, a Peabody Award, and NAACP Image Awards among other awards and nominations.
She received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her accolades include receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from former U.S. President Barack Obama; being a Kennedy Center Honors recipient; and a Television Academy Hall of Fame awardee. She was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
Media Mogul Tyler Perry named a movie studio sound stage in honor of Ms. Tyson. She was co-founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2009, a magnet school in East Orange, NJ, became known as The Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts in her honor.
From riding the ferry in Bermuda with Ms. Tyson and her family and friends, to our meeting during the cruise where we had the opportunities to thank her and take photographs with her, to being able to see her on multiple occasions being interviewed about her vast career which could fill several books and not just her best-selling memoir, “JUST AS I AM,” Tyson was gracious. [For a synopsis of “JUST AS I AM” Cicely Tyson’s incredible memoir go to https://www.philasun.com/entertainment/just-as-i-ama-memoir-by-cicely-tyson-with-michelle-burford/]
Just recently, I watched Gayle King interview Tyson promoting her memoir. When King asked Tyson how she wanted to be remembered, she replied, “I’ve done my best. That’s all.”
And she certainly did.