Even though the Academy Awards have been around for more than 90 years, they still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity. After being called out with #OscarsSoWhite in recent years, the powers that be seem like they’ve finally started to listen. This year, legendary actress Cicely Tyson will become the first black woman to win an honorary Oscar.
People reported yesterday, September 6th, that the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced the 93-year-old as one of this year’s honorary Oscar winners; she will be honored at the Governors Awards on November 18th. She is the only actor to receive an honorary award this year.
Tyson’s legendary acting career spans five decades. She made her feature film debut in 1968’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and has since appeared in movies including The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The River Niger. While her role in 1973’s Sounder earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, she lost and has yet to be nominated for another Oscar.
But the actress still has plenty of accolades under her belt. She received a Tony Award for best leading actress in the 2013 play The Trip to Bountiful, and has also had an illustrious TV career, winning Emmy Awards for her roles in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. She also acted in the series Roots, for which she received another Emmy nomination, and she currently plays Ophelia Harkness in How to Get Away with Murder.
Tyson received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, when, as The Washington Post reported, President Barack Obama called her “just gorgeous.”
Viola Davis, who plays Tyson’s onscreen daughter in the Shonda Rhimes drama, congratulated the actress on her historic victory.
It’s so exciting to see Tyson getting recognized by the Academy for her incredible work. Hopefully, she will be the first of many talented black women to receive this honor for their contribution to the arts.