LeVar Burton is celebrating the late Cicely Tyson following her death on Thursday, Jan. 28. The two shared a special bond as they co-starred in the seminal 1977 mini-series Roots.
Tyson earned an Emmy nomination for playing Kunta Kinte’s mother in the legendary mini-series. Burton’ played Kuna Kinte, which was his first role.
On Jan. 29, the 63-year-old posted on Twitter, “This one cuts deep. @IAmCicelyTyson was my first screen Mom.. Elegance, warmth, beauty, wisdom, style and abundant grace. She was as regal as they come. An artist of the highest order, I will love her forever.”
In 1951, Tyson made her television acting debut on an NBC series called Frontiers of Faith. Her breakthrough role came In 1972, with her portrayal of sharecropping mother and wife Rebecca Morgan in Sounder. The role earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
Tyson won three Emmys; two for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) and one for The Oldest Living Confederate Widow (1994). In 2013, Tyson conquered Broadway at 88 years old and won her first Tony Award for The Trip to Bountiful.
A new generation of Black Hollywood had the opportunity to work closely with Tyson in her final years. She was a scene stealer on the hit NBC show How to Get Away With Murder playing the mother to Viola Davis’ character for five years (2015-2020) and she co-starred in several Tyler Perry films, including the psychological Netflix thriller A Fall From Grace in early 2020.
That same year, Tyson played retired actress Miss Luma Lee Langston on Ava Duvernay’s OWN project Cherish the Day.
The Harlem native received an Oscar in 2018, an honorary award for her lifetime’s body of work.
Tyson released her final work, a memoir, on just three days ago (Jan. 26), with Just As I Am. The book focuses on her life and the highlights of her career that spanned seven decades.