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Celebrities Are Remembering How Cicely Tyson Paved The Way For Black Women In Hollywood

"You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls," Viola Davis wrote on Twitter.

Posted on January 28, 2021, at 9:05 p.m. ET

Matt Sayles / AP

Cicely Tyson's career was an inspiration on and off the screen, so after the 96-year-old Hollywood icon died Thursday, the tributes to her came pouring in.

"I really need this not to be true," Shonda Rhimes, prolific producer and screenwriter, wrote on Twitter. Tyson had a memorable recurring role on Rhimes' show How to Get Away With Murder.

Rhimes then followed with a tribute to Tyson, the legendary actor who forged a path for Black women in the industry with nuanced characters throughout a 70-year career that earned her Emmy and Tony awards.

"She was an extraordinary person," Rhimes wrote. "She had so much to teach. And I still have so much to learn."

Actor Zendaya also mourned the loss of the acting icon.

"This one hurts," Zendya wrote.

"You paved the way," actor Tracie Thoms noted.

Twitter: @shondarhimes

She was an extraordinary person. And this is an extraordinary loss. She had so much to teach. And I still have so much to learn. I am grateful for every moment. Her power and grace will be with us forever. #cicelytyson https://t.co/RNYkGiooPD

Twitter: @shondarhimes

This one hurts, today we honor and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cicely Tyson. Rest in great power.

Twitter: @Zendaya

I have no words. Just thank you, Madame Cicely Tyson. We are, because YOU paved the way for us. A queen and a trailblazer indeed. Rest now... #RIPCicelyTyson. https://t.co/rjhtE38NgL

Twitter: @traciethoms

"You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls," Viola Davis wrote. "You gave me permission to dream."

I'm devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream... https://t.co/7V7AFZtFLa

Twitter: @violadavis

Others who had also gotten a chance to work with Tyson remembered her as tireless throughout the course of a 70-year career.

She was a consummate pro and all class and I was so fortunate to have worked with her on "Sweet Justice." But my best memory was traveling with her through Russia for a film festival, as she told us wonderful stories. Hollywood truly lost an icon today. RIP Cicely Tyson 😢🤟

Twitter: @MarleeMatlin

It was an honor to have worked with Ms. Tyson on this video. We were worried she wouldn’t be able to read it off the prompter. But she took one look and said, “I’m ready.” She did it in one take. Rest peacefully, Queen 🥺🙏🏾

Twitter: @jasmynbeknowing

In a series of pictures, rapper and actor Common noted Tyson's influence throughout her career, not just on the screen, but in fashion and culture.

I’m so sad to hear the news that trailblazing artist and cultural icon Cicely Tyson has passed away today. While she may be gone, her work and life will continue to inspire millions for years to come. God Bless.

Twitter: @common

Just two days before her death, Tyson's memoir Just as I Am was published. In an interview with CBS This Morning's Gayle King, Tyson discussed her life and legacy as she promoted the book.

On Thursday, King posted a portion of the interview and thanked the trailblazing actor.

Thank you Cicely Tyson... for everything...

Twitter: @GayleKing

Such a loss. Rest in Peace, Cicely Tyson.💔 https://t.co/mYRsAD59WW

Twitter: @katiecouric

Others noted the barriers that were broken down by Tyson's work, especially for Black women. Her portrayals of nuanced characters and elegant presence on screen were both an inspiration and a force for change.

"I want to be recalled as one who squared my shoulders in the service of Black women, as one who made us walk taller and envision greater for ourselves." Thank you for all that you did for Black women. You will inspire Black women and girls for generations to come. #CicelyTyson

Twitter: @ashleyrallison

Indeed. That is precisely why we loved you so. Rest in peace, Queen. Thank you for leaving a legacy of cinematic art behind, for using your gifts to tell Black stories & to convey our full humanity. And thank you for doing it all with style, flair & grace inimitable.

Twitter: @AyannaPressley

So saddened to hear my friend #CicelyTyson has passed-one of the most profound, talented, & celebrated actors in the industry. She was a serious actor, beautiful & spiritual woman who had unlocked the key to longevity in the way she lived her life. Forever all my love & respect.

Twitter: @RepMaxineWaters

Cicely Tyson was light-filled and generous with it, full of grace and gravitas, dignity and warmth and she was also very beautiful and glamorous and clearly knew it, and God, I love seeing black women bold with their beauty

Twitter: @BeeBabs

This woman gave us so many visions of ourselves. Thank you for always @IAmCicelyTyson

Twitter: @mobrowne

An icon, in its truest sense, is someone who wakes you up and, by the sheer beauty of their transcendent existence, doesn’t make you want to Beloit *them.* They make you want to be more of *yourself.* And that is Ms. Cicely Tyson. You can rest now. You gave us every gift.❤️

Twitter: @MsPackyetti

Bernice King, the youngest of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children, also honored the actor.

"What a vessel," she wrote.

An elder...now an ancestor. What a vessel. #CicelyTyson

Twitter: @BerniceKing


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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