Cicely Tyson remembered: Viola, Oprah, Zendaya, Rihanna, more stars honor the legend

Following the death of pioneering and award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, 96, on Jan. 28, 2021, Hollywood stars, friends and luminaries took to social media to celebrate her life and mourn her loss. See what they had to say, starting with actress Viola Davis, who worked with Cicely in ‘The Help” and on “How To Get Away With Murder.” “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….because it was only in my dreams that I could see the possibilities in myself,” Viola wrote on Instagram. “I’m not ready for you to be my angel yet. But…I also understand that it’s only when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that you’ll truly be dead. In that case, you will be immortal. Thank you for shifting my life. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for loving me. Rest well 💔💔💔.”

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“Of all the times and experiences we shared together, this was one of my favorites: The weekend of the Legends Ball in 2005. The idea for the ball originated because I wanted to celebrate HER, and other remarkable Black women who carved a path and built a bridge for me and generations to follow. What a joy to honor her and feel her receive it! I loved her hat so much, she sent it to me afterwards. Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.” —Oprah Winfrey

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“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.” –Zendaya

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“I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway. Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died. This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.” –Tyler Perry

“A true legend!! Rest in power Cicely Tyson.” –Rihanna

“Heart broken to hear about Cicely Tyson’s passing. I had the honor of traveling with her to visit children in N.O. after the devastation of Katrina. What a gift we experienced to be graced by her wisdom, kindness & compassion for all. She will be missed. May God carry her home” —Reese Witherspoon

“Rest in power, Cicely Tyson. Thank you for your life, your love, your light … This legend’s second to last [tweet] was about me. I can’t stop crying. Thank you, thank you, thank you Cicely. You’ve given us black girls everything.” –poet Amanda Gorman, who Cicely tweeted just one day before she died to praise Amanda for her words at President Joe Biden’s inauguration a week earlier, writing, “@TheAmandaGorman, your words remind us that we will rise, rebuild, reconcile and recover. Thank you for your words and light.”

“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” –Shonda Rhimes, who posted this selfie with Cicely Tyson on Instagram on Jan. 28, 2021

“Thank you Cicely Tyson… for everything…” Gayle King wrote on Twitter alongside a tribute video just days after conducting one of Cicely’s final interviews. Gayle also shared a question and answer from their sit-down: “When the time comes, what do you want us to remember about you?” Gayle asked. Cicely responded, “I done my best. That’s all.”

“In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.” –former President Barack Obama

“What struck me every time I spent time with Cicely Tyson was not necessarily her star power—though that was evident enough—it was her humanity. Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her. She was the personification of beauty, grace, wisdom, and strength, carrying forward a flame that not only guided her for 96 pathbreaking years but lit the way for so many of us. I’ll miss her dearly, but I smile knowing how many people she inspired, just like me, to walk a little taller, speak a little more freely, and live a little bit more like God intended.” –former first lady Michelle Obama

‘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… RIP” –LeVar Burton

“Your hugs I’ll remember. How your petite arms wrapped around me like mighty branches of a sunlit tree, strong and warm. Your laugh I’ll remember. How it came easily and heartily and sounded like good music. Your work I’ll remember. How your brave portrayals transformed the way the world witnessed Black women, whether they could accept what you shared or not. Your words I’ll remember. How each time I hung up the phone, I’d write them down so as not forget the precious jewels of encouragement and wisdom you’d gifted me. Your love I’ll remember. You loved me for some reason. You told me so often. I thank you for that forever and I’ll carry your love with me as I go. Bless you as you journey ahead, Your Majesty. Until we meet again…” –Ava DuVernay

“Hillary and I mourn the passing of Cicely Tyson. She brought complex characters to life with dignity and heart, and humanity and depth, always remaining true to herself. Our thoughts and prayers to all who were inspired and empowered by her performances and extraordinary life.” –former President Bill Clinton

“Honoring the life of the legendary Ms. Cicely Tyson, a queen who graced the world with her beauty, strength and talent. Grateful for her legacy and for the chance to read her unvarnished truth. Rest In Power” –Mariah Carey

“Though we are not related, her mother was friends with my grandmother in the West Indies, with strongly resonant struggles and triumphs. Farewell to a force of nature unto herself — in person, on stage, and on the screen. Cicely Tyson, RIP (1924-2021)” –Neil deGrasse Tyson

“QUEEN somehow just doesn’t capture MS. TYSON. Her legacy has left an indelible mark. She paved a way that created a space for girls like me to feel the light. Thank you GODDESS CICELY. Rest in power.” –Regina King

“America has had a lot of great actresses, but none greater than Cicely Tyson. Rest in Power” –Cynthia Nixon

“#CicelyTyson This is your story. Your song. Blessed Assurance. It’s what you gave us. A foretaste of glory! I love this video of you. A spectacular night. A spectacular life. Thank you for blessing us and for lighting way. I miss you already. So so much” –Kerry Washington, who tweeted this message alongside a video of Cicely at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015

“Cicely Tyson has passed. She led a pioneering career in film, a remarkable feat for an African American woman born 96 years ago. An Emmy and Tony award winning actress, her career on screen and on stage stretched an incredible seven decades. We will miss you dearly, Cicely. RIP” –George Takei

“Heartbroken by the passing of the LEGENDARY, GRACEFUL, and ICONIC, Cicely Tyson 💔💔 From her iconic roles and dedication to her craft, to being the first Black Women to wear her hair naturally on TV, to being my first movie grandmother and guiding me with such care … her impact is TRULY INCALCULABLE #RestInPower” –Yara Shahidi

“Many years ago I went to China with the amazing Cicely Tyson & Miles Davis … What a blessing it was to spend these moments with them. She was a true inspiration.” –David Copperfield

“To have gotten to be in the same room as you multiple times, is truly to have been in the presence of GREATNESS!!. There are no words, just all the feelings you’ve evoked in us all and the indescribable blueprint, legacy you leave for us all. Thank you REST IN POWER! #cicelytyson” –Laverne Cox

“We have lost a visionary, a leader, a lover, an author, an ICON, and one of the most talented actresses the world has ever seen. A life, a career, a fire to celebrated forevermore! #RIPCicelyTyson” –Gabrielle Union

“I have only one word that can describe Ms. #CicelyTyson … LEGEND Rest in love Cicely. We are going to miss you” –Jada Pinkett Smith

“Another day, another legend. I am so heartbroken to hear of the passing of the great Cicely Tyson – iconic and influential actress, dies at 96” –Josh Gad

“I will never forget the time we spent during a ‘Trip To Bountiful’ I lost my grandmother when I was 17 and she was like a mother to me. I never told you that because I just didn’t know how you would take it lol..I didn’t wanna get too personal with such a legend. But, working with you brought back all the memories she and I shared and how she would tease me. You healed my heart in so many ways. I am tearing up as I write this..sometimes you don’t realize all the ways people impacted you.. We all will always love you Ms. Tyson. Rest in eternal peace. Thank you, for everything. Tell my grandma I said Hi. 😢🙏🏾❤️” –Keke Palmer

“Cicely Tyson opened doors, broke through ceilings, and made pathways. We will be forever grateful.” –Wanda Sykes

“I’m sad to hear the news that we lost our dear Cicely Tyson, the sweetest person I’ve ever met. A Queen, legend, and pioneer, Ms. Cicely Tyson opened the door for so many Black actresses on Broadway and in television and film. Because of her sacrifice & resilience, today we enjoy so many movies portraying strong Black woman characters. Simply put, Cicely Tyson is Black royalty & her incredible talent and spirit will be missed. Cookie & I are praying for the entire Tyson family and her loved ones.” –Magic Johnson

“So many great stories about Cicely Tyson! Whew: that lady was amazing. While shooting a doc on her in Spanish Harlem—people kept stopping their cars! In the street! To hop out and say hi! Old people. Teenagers. Middle aged fans. ‘Ciss-el-lee’ they’d chant as she’d walk by!” –Soledad O’Brien

“#cicelytyson you lead the way in so many ways… your Strength Beauty and bold Talent Makes us proud! Rest in power” –Garcelle Beauvais

“Thank you queen!! Honored to have the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness, #cicelytyson #rip” –Don Lemon

“Iconic. Rest Well Cicely Tyson. Your gifts to this world will be treasured forever. Thank you” –Gladys Knight

“A post doesn’t seem enough to honor her life, her legacy, her artistry, grace and beauty. She paved the way… and left the door cracked open, honor her by walking thru it. #rip #cicelytyson #gutpunch” –Laura Bell Bundy

“Another icon lost… Cicely Tyson you were beauty and grace, and an inspiration to us all. Such an incredible force. Rest in Power.” –Giancarlo Esposito

“There’s probably no better a way to honor Cicely Tyson, than by learning her story. Just as I Am: A Memoir ” –Gabourey Sidibe, who tweeted about Cicely’s new memoir with a link to buy it

“If only we could be as blessed as the prolific, vivacious and pioneering Cicely Tyson to live to be 96 and have had such a full life, accomplish so many awesome milestones and leave such an incredible body of work. She’ll never be forgotten! #CicelyTyson” –Sherri Shepherd

“Just hearing the sad news that a TRUE HOLLYWOOD LEGEND #CicelyTyson has just passed. I had the pleasure of introducing u at event and I was moved to tears to be in the presence of TRUE GREATNESS! Thank You QUEEN for your gifts and you will NEVER be forgotten #RestInParadise” –Vivica A. Fox

“Legend. Rest in Paradise Queen. Thank you for kicking doors down for girls like me. #CicelyTyson” –Tika Sumpter

“Thank you for walking through the world the way you did. You gave us 96 years of class, grace, craft, and Black beauty” –Lena Waithe

“Deeply saddened at the news of the death of Cicely Tyson. She was the ultimate actress, artist, trailblazer and role model. Nobody possessed her grace, intellect, and sensitivity. I’m blessed to have known her and bathed in her wisdom. May she rest in Power and Peace.” –the Reverend Al Sharpton











































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