Cicely Tyson is among the latest inductees into the TV Hall of Fame. The 95-year-old acting legend was honored at the 25th induction ceremony at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California on Tuesday (Jan. 28).
Additional inductees included Disney executive Robert Igor, former TV executive Geraldine Laybourne, Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane, and TV director Jay Sandrich.
Shonda Rhimes inducted Tyson into the Hall of Fame, detailing her trailblazing career of more than 80 years. Rhimes spoke to the similarities between dream chasers, “And then there is that rarest of souls, that one spark of light who not only fulfills her dreams, but also fulfills the dreams of generations to follow,” Rhimes said of Tyson.
“That courageous warrior who demands more, and makes more out of a dream than anyone before her ever dared to imagine possible. See, Ms. Cicely Tyson is not like you or me. She isn’t just someone who fulfilled her dream. Ms. Cicely Tyson herself is a dream fulfilled.”
Tyson’s trailblazing career includes becoming the first black actor to star in a TV series, the fist black woman to win an Emmy as lead actress in a television movie, and the first black actress to receive and honorary Oscar.
The icon accepted her honor by sharing a message to her late mother, who was “very upset” with her for not going to college. “I want to let you know that I’m at an Academy now,” Tyson jokingly said. “And I hope I made up for the disappointment.”
Tyson also thanked God “for keeping me here as long as I’ve been here to get to an Academy,” Rhimes for her “incredible words,” and the Academy for inducting her into the Hall of Fame.
Later in her speech, Tyson shared a story about a run-in with a white reporter while promoting the film, Sounder. The reporter couldn’t “accept the fact” that Tyson’s son (in the film) referred to his father as “daddy,” as the reporter’s son referred to him. Despite finding the moment “difficult to swallow,” Tyson realized that there were “some issues” that she had to address, and that she would use her career “as my platform.”
Tyson continued, “I am extremely grateful that what I refer to as ‘divine guidance’ led me to this experience and gave me that future of my career.”
In closing Tyson joked, “I’ve been getting a lot of awards lately and I find myself wondering if ya’ll know something that I don’t know, and if you do, you better share it with me, because I will find a way to find out.
“I have had an incredible career,” she added. “I am grateful, not to the shoulders that I stood on, but the backs that I laid on and stood on while the women in our family picked cotton with babies strapped to their backs. I’m grateful for them. I am super grateful that I have been here for 95 years, and have no idea who this person is. I find myself looking in the mirror every now and then and saying ‘Cicely, do you believe this?’ I don’t [believe it] but I am grateful to the Heavenly Father, to every single one of you who has held me up over these years. I want you to know that I would not be here if it weren’t for each one you.”