Cicely Tyson Stars in Ava DuVernay's Series 'Cherish the Day'

Emmy award-winning actress Cicely Tyson has joined the cast as the lead in Ava DuVernay’s OWN anthology series “Cherish the Day,” the network announced on August 13.

Each season of DuVernay’s show will chronicle the budding romance of one couple, with each episode spanning a day in the story. The season-long narrative will show the significant moments in a relationship “that compel us to hold true to the ones we love, from the extraordinary to the everyday,” the release states. The series is set to premiere winter 2020.

Tyson joins Xosha Roquemore and Alano Miller, who play Gently James and Evan Fisher. Tyson is set to play Miss Luma Lee Langston, “a legendary star of stage and screen in decades past.” Gently James, played by Roquemore, is Luma’s live-in assistant who is encouraged by Langston to pursue a romance with Evan Fisher (Alano Miller). DuVernay said she was honored Tyson is a part of her latest project.

“Last November I was honored to present Ms. Tyson with her Honorary Academy Award, so to have the opportunity to work with this force of nature who has inspired multiple generations with her talent and grace is beyond anything I can describe,” said DuVernay in a statement. “I am over the moon that ​Ms. Tyson will bring Miss Luma Lee Langston to life in ‘Cherish the Day.’ Each day that she walks on set is a master class."

Tyson has paved the way for the next generation of Black actors throughout her career. Tyson was born in Harlem, New York and was raised by Caribbean parents, according to her IMDb profile. She was first discovered by a fashion editor from Ebony magazine and then began to model. Tyson began acting in Off-Broadway productions in 1957 and landed a featured role as Portia in the 1968 film The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

In 1972, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1972 movie Sounder. It was the second time in the history of the Academy Awards that an African American actress was nominated for Best Actress, an achievement she shares with Diana Ross who was also nominated that year, according to IMDb. She became the first African American woman to win an Emmy Award as Best lead actress in a Drama two years later for the 1974 movie, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. That same year, she won a second Emmy Award for Actress of the Year.

Her success did not end there. In 1984, she won her third Emmy Award for a supporting role in the miniseries “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,” according to the Television Academy website. She has also been nominated for her performances in “Roots,” “King,” “Sweet Justice,” “The Marva Collins,” and “How To Get Away with Murder.” She also won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Carrie in “The Trip to the Bountiful,” which made her the oldest living person to ever win in the acting categories of the Tony Awards, the release stated.

In 2016, President Barack Obama presented Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. While presenting her with the award, Obama gushed over the award-winning actress, saying that she starred in roles that projected women “in a realistic light and dealt with us as human beings,” Essence previously reported.

“In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only exceeded as an actor, she has shaped the course of history,” Obama said at the time.

In 2018, the 93-year-old Tyson won an honorary Oscar, also known as the Governors Awards, which is a lifetime achievement award for film. Tyson received the award along with other titans of film, including producing couple Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, prolific composer Lalo Schifrin, and storied publicist Marvin Levy, Entertainment Weekly previously reported. Tyson was the first African American woman to receive the award.

Tyler Perry, Quincy Jones, and Ava DuVernay all paid tribute to Tyson, detailing the challenges she had to face as a Black actress in America during her six-decade-long career.

“African Americans hold Cicely in such high regard, she is a queen to us… she would only do roles that served us,” Perry said while introducing Tyson at the ceremony.

She told the crowd she “cried and cried and cried” when she was told she would be receiving the honorary Oscar.

“I could not be here if it were not for you, if you had not stood beside me, around me, underneath me,” the actress said to the audience.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.