- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - She was married to Miles Davis and shared the screen with Elizabeth Taylor. She’s won a Tony and an Emmy and has been nominated for an Academy Award. But even at 90, Cicely Tyson says her life’s work isn’t done.

Still, she’s honored to accept a lifetime achievement award from the Alliance for Women in Media at its 40th annual Gracies Awards ceremony on Tuesday in Beverly Hills.

“I actually feel like I have not really achieved that much,” Tyson said. “So I look at it as just encouragement to keep going.”

The actress spoke with The Associated Press recently, reflecting on her 60-year career and sharing plans for what’s next.


AP: What keeps acting interesting for you?

Tyson: I look at every role as a person that I’m meeting for the first time, and that allows me - because of the curiosity that I’ve always had since I was a child, and thank God I still have it - to delve into the personality, to find out who they really are. And once I can do that, it gives me some assurance that I can honestly project the character of the person.

AP: Did you always want to be an entertainer?

Tyson: As a child, my father taught the three of us - he had a boy and two girls - to sing. So we sang and were always performing in church. …” I never thought of it as anything special. Except once when my sister and I were supposed to perform together. She didn’t want to go because she didn’t like the song that was chosen for us to sing. So I went by myself, and it ended up that they put me on a chair and they lifted the chair into the air and they marched all around the church with me on it. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mother and my sister and my father. I never forgot that moment.

AP: What attracts you to a role?

Tyson: Well, either my skin tingles or my stomach churns. I’ve said that from the beginning of my career. It happens when I read a script. When I read a script, either my skin tingles or my stomach churns. If my stomach churns, I know it’s not for me. When my skin tingles, I can’t wait. It’s that simple with me.

AP: Do you ever think about retirement?

Tyson: When I saw Geraldine (Page) do “Trip to Bountiful” … I saw her name on the billboard and I’ve always been a fan of hers, so I went in and saw it. When I left the theater I went right to my agent’s home and I said, “You get me my ‘Trip to Bountiful’ and I will retire.” He looked at me and he laughed, OK? And every now and then I would run into him and say, “Where’s my ‘Trip to Bountiful?’” Well 26 years later - you know, I say it, and I don’t really believe it, but it happened - 26 years later I received a call (for a meeting with) Hallie Foote, the daughter of (playwright) Horton Foote. … She told me that she was thinking of doing one of her father’s plays, “Trip to Bountiful,” with a black cast, and that her father had so much respect for me and my work that she knew that I was the only person he felt would be able to play it. … I literally fell off the chair.

AP: You won the 2013 Tony Award for that performance. You got what you asked for, but are you retired?

Tyson: It was very rewarding, the whole experience, and, for me, very gratifying. I did not expect the “Trip to Bountiful.” I was just asking for one more good role. So I’ve been so blessed. I said, “Just one more good role and I’ll retire!” But you see where I am now? I’m getting ready to do “The Gin Game” (on Broadway) with James Earl Jones in the fall.


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide