WASHINGTON — Caribbean American actress Cicely L Tyson has been inducted into the Wall of Fame of the Washington, DC-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), as Caribbean Americans celebrate National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
Tyson, a former fashion model and daughter of immigrants from Nevis, is renowned for playing strong African-American women on screen and stage throughout her career.
She is also the recipient of three Primetime Emmy Awards, four Black Reel Awards, one Screen Actor Guild Award and one Tony Award. Tyson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States in November 2016.
ICS said Tyson is the daughter of Frederica Tyson, a domestic worker, and William Augustine Tyson, who worked as a carpenter, painter, “and at any other jobs he could find.”
Her father arrived in New York City at 21 and was processed at Ellis Island on August 4, 1919, ICS said.
“Having appeared in minor film and television roles early in her career, Tyson garnered widespread attention and critical acclaim for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder (1972); she was nominated for the Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, and won the NSFC Best Actress and NBR Best Actress Awards for the role.”
“Her portrayal of a young slave at the end of the American Civil War in the 1974 television film, ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman won her further praise,’” she added. “The role won her two Emmy Awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role among other accolades.”
Tyson also appeared in the 2011 drama film “The Help” — that was set in the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.
The film had her play the role of Constantine, a maid in Jackson, Mississippi and won her the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble cast.
In addition to her screen career, ICS said Tyson has also appeared in various theatre productions; she starred as Carrie Watts in the Broadway play, The Trip to Bountiful, winning the Tony Award, Outer Critics Award, and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play.
Tyson had previously received a Drama Desk Award in 1962 for her Off-Broadway performance in Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.
Tyson has also been honoured by the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and the National Council of Negro Women.
In 1977 she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and named a Kennedy Centre honouree in 2015.