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Cicely Tyson; The Positive Portrayal of black women on screen

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson; The Positive Portrayal of black women on screen

Cicely Tyson, a onetime model and popularly admired Oscar-nominated actress died on Thursday, January 28th, 2021. Throughout her career, which lasted for more than sixty years, she touched hearts in the pivotal roles she played. She committed herself to presenting positive images of black women through her appearance in many films. With this, she was able to help break down America’s stereotypes regarding African-American women.

Tyson was one of the actresses who inspired and encouraged Black actresses. She was born on December 19, 1924. As stated by a fashion editor  at Ebony Magazine, “She quickly rose to the top of the modelling world. In 1957, she began acting in Off-Broadway productions, and the following decades she appeared in several short-lived Broad way shows.”

Cicely Tyson’s portrayal of black women in different movies earned her various awards and nominations including the Emmy’s Awards, Oscar Award and to mention a few.

Here are some movies you would love to check out to refresh your  memories of Cicely Tyson:

Sounder (1972)

In 1972, Cicely Tyson starred in Sounder. People consider the movie to be Tyson’s big break because it really moved people. She played Rebecca Morgan, the matriarch of a family of black share croppers. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best actress due to the role she played in the movie. In an Interview with Elle Magazine, she said “Of course, Sounder surprised us all. I remember Marty Ritt, the Director calling me and saying, ‘Cis, this is supposed to be a children’s film. But, if they are not careful, they are going to make a damn good film.”

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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974)

Cicely Tyson’s character was Jane Pittman. In this film, she goes through life from her days as a young slave to the end of the Civil War. This film earned Tyson her first Primetime Emmy and a BAFTA nomination for best actress.

The Help (2011)

Here, Cicely Tyson played Constantine Bates, the main character who was Charlotte’s childhood maid. This particular movie, The Help won three Oscar nominations.

Sweet Justice (1994-1995)

The drama portrayed Tyson as Carrie Grace Battle, a no-nonsense lawyer who runs a progressive law firm in the south. The movie earned Cicely Tyson an Emmy and a Screen Actor Guild nomination for the best actress in a drama series.

The Trip to Bountiful (2014)

The play involves a woman who has to live with her apathetic son and daughter-in-law in Texas. Cicely’s character, Carrie Watts dream was to return to her home town of Bountiful. Eventually, she was able to return home and then, she met interesting people along the way. For the role Tyson played, she won the Tony award for best actress. Also, she got the Critic’s choice, SAG and Satellite Awards.

Although Cicely Tyson is dead, she has left an indelible mark in the movie industry. She differentiated herself in the film industry, and she did not play a role that seems demeaning to black women.

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