'Just As I Am': Cicely Tyson Reflects On Her Long Career
Only the legend. Actress Sicily Tyson During a career spanning six decades, she's brought to life iconic roles in theater, film and television, from sounder to the autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, two routes to how to get away with murder roles that have offered previously unseen images of the sweep and humanity of black life. Now. In a new memoir, she finally finally sets forth her improbable journey from the typing pool at the Red Cross to award winning actor and icon of style. Her book is called Just as I Am and Sicily. Tyson is here with us to tell us more about Cicely Tyson. Miss Tyson. Welcome. It's such an honor to have you with us. Thank you. No. Honestly, if someone were to write the story of your life as a novel, I don't think people would believe it. I mean, you started modeling at the age of 30 when most models air hanging up their stilettos. You got your first starring role when you were nearly 50. I mean crazy. That's life. At least mine. Does it seem that way to you? Well, it's remarkable to me that I have arrived. Where I am today, because I had that anticipated it. I made the decision based on things that happened to be along the way. And I just kept going, You know, no matter what happened in my life it did not did not deter berate from reaching the goal that I had set for myself. You write very movingly of your parents, even though you are very honest about the difficulties they had in their relationship, and also frankly, some of the difficulties You had with them. Your memory seems so sharp like I remember you writing about the delicious potatoes your mother would make and yes, at lunch and it just it just amazing to me that you could remember. It's always details. It is amazing, but they was they so impacted my life at the time. Uh, they they affected me in a way that I could not forget those memories and my sister and I sit down sometimes and salivate over them the potatoes and you said her Mac and she's had no equal No one No one and she made a chicken soup that will make you Licked a hair out of your nostrils. Hmm. So So you write about how you kind of fell into acting after a modeling career that just improbable, moderate wing career like you learned literally. Um, a zoo. We said in the typing pool of the Red Cross, and you'd kind of go to the department stores on the kind of the late, Great Lord, Take your lunch hour. That wasn't my favorite place, sadly, just closing its doors. When did you decide that acting? Was your calling? What was the thing that made you say? This is what I have to do. It happened. We could. I learned that I could speak. Through other people. I was very shy child. I was an observer. I would sit And observe and listen and watch people's actions in order to understand what they were. Well, I wanted to know what planted them just say and do things that they did. I sucked my figures for 12 years. I never spoke. Was a silencer, but I was a great observer. Remember, you're writing about the effect. That's a role like sounder had on people where you played Rebecca and I think many people might know the story. Poor Paul Winfield played against you as the Nathan and you played Rebecca and it's It's a story of kind of a loving black couple. Basically, just trying to live against that almost exactly right. Yes, And what amazing was you said that some of the reactions that people got when, like, for example, television writers, saying that they didn't realize that black Children called there Parents, Dad and, Mom, can you imagine that? Understand motion for sounder and after I finished after the film was completed, this journalist said. That he discovered a bit of bigotry and himself. But he realized that this black boy, which should buy first son, Kevin Hooks called his father Daddy. On and when I asked why, he said, That's what my son calls May and I'm not. I tell you, Uh, I was so started to be a few minutes to catch my breath in order. To question What is this man thought? That we were human. You know why Pat my son call his black father Daddy as his sons. Called him and it was at that time that I decided I could not afford the luxury of just big fractures. There were certain issues I have to adjust. And I thought I would use like a rare as why flat floor and you know we can't let you go without talking about Miles Davis. Oh, Yeah, well, you can't because she was part of my life. What do you think you learned from that? I mean, you write about the fact that you all were like the it couple at the time. I mean, you were one of the couples in me. He's a jazz legend. You are a legend in your field. On yet, you know, he had some issues as we as we all know, I mean, he had a serious drug problem and Some other sort of issues. Demons that he was dealing with. What do you think you learned from that relationship? I wish people knew the Miles Davis that I knew. Really because to you can walk into a bookstore and you sing dreams of books about Miles Davis and few people who wrote the books. Yeah. Not only was she feeling they talented, he was brilliantly sensitive, and that is the Miles Davis that people know. I don't know that he was trying to Okay? You have a very forgiving spirit. Well, Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Forgive each other, huh? We don't keep riding a rough truck over a sensitive so you can't do that. People are looking for help. And you look and you see them And you know that they need help. Okay, and you can help them. At least I can. I can always speak myself. Okay on. So what? I realized that he was in deep trouble on that he wanted he wants. He said I don't want to do that anymore. Okay. Uh, So when somebody says that to you And they're asking for help at this. I would try to help them. Before we let you go, Miss Tyson. We have only just scratched the surface of your remarkable life. And I am so honored to have had this time to spend with you. But before I let you go, do you have some advice for younger artists are those just Beginning their careers after you've done so much and seeing so much and been through so much Do you have any advice that you would share Death? Stick with it? Just stick for that. There's a reason why there's always a reason why you keep going in the direction you chose to go. And that is the legend. Sicily Taison, her new book, Just as I am is out Tuesday. Cicely Tyson. Thank you so much for speaking with us. It isn't Even honor by appreciate so much time. Thank you.