Cicely Tyson is a living legend but she’s not content to just sit home and enjoy the spoils of a six-decade career in entertainment. The actress is currently starring on Broadway with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Vanessa Williams in “The Trip To Bountiful.” For her work, she was recently nominated for a Tony Award. Given all her accomplishments, the two-time Emmy Award winner says that she can’t definitely answer which time in her life has been the best thus far.
“I think that each decade for me has been remarkable,” Tyson told The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
“Each one. Each one has offered and taught me something and led me to the next one. Its very difficult for me to say these are the best, because I don’t know what’s to come. But they’re good.”
LIke “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Streetcar Named Desire,” both Broadway revivals with predominantly black casts, “The Trip to Bountiful,” is another example of the success of “color-blind” casting.
The original play was turned into a 1985 film starring Geraldine Page, John Heard and Rebecca DeMornay which one Page an Oscar for her role as Carrie Watts. In the play and film, Watts, the role played by Tyson, is an elderly woman who wants to return to her small Southern hometown against the wishes of her son and daughter-in-law. Asked how she remembered all the lines as she’s on stage more than any of the other actors, Tyson says that’s the easy part.
“That’s the least of it. It truly is. During the entire time of my career, I’ve had one process. That is to read the script as many times as is humanly possible. In the reading, I learn who I am, and why am I in that piece. What purpose do I serve in forwarding the story of the writer? Once I do that and I understand why I’m there, the lines come. There are reasons to say the lines.” Though Tyson has won five NAACP Awards, A SAG Award and two Emmys – one of them for the lead role in the now classic TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” in 1974, this is her first Tony nomination. Sybil Wilkes, of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, who has seen the play, says she is rooting for Tyson to win.
“From your mouths to God’s ears. One thing I did not expect was the kind of love and attention and support I have gotten throughout this play. I mean to tell you that that the house is in the spirit and they participate, which is the most surprising. When I was told that the audience was singing with me I didn’t quite understand or believe it because I’m so focused on what’s going on onstage I did not hear it until after the opening when I relaxed and could sink into the part and be apart of all that’s around me. And I heard them singing. It is incredible.”
The Tony Awards air this Sunday, at 8 p.m. on CBS, live from Radio City Music Hall. “The Trip To Bountiful” continues its Broadway run at the Stephen Sondheim Theater.