Monday, October 15, 2012

Cicely Tyson - Film

Cicely Tyson - Film

By Rych McCain International/Nationally Syndicated Entertainment Columnist

Cicely Tyson
No Fanfare, Just Full Steam Ahead!

All Liongate Photos

     One would think that after a successful modeling and acting career that spans five decades; and being considered by many as an American artistic treasure and icon, she would be content to lay back and rest on her laurels and accomplishments but not so for the magnificent actress Cicely Tyson. 

   However, when you mention the word great in her presence she is quick to correct you saying “I’m not a great actress. I strive to be a good actress. That word “great” is bandied around entirely too much.” As mentioned above, there are many who would tend to disagree with her. After all this Harlem native is a “Best Lead Actress” Oscar® nominee for her role in the 1972 movie “Sounder” and was the first Black actress to win the “Outstanding Lead Actress in a TV Movie” Emmy® in 1974 for “The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman” as well as other critically acclaimed roles. Tyson began her career as a model after being discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony Magazine and worked her way to the top in that field. Then she studied and made the transition to acting. Her body of work is not as extensive as it could have been due to her commitment to portray only strong, positive images of Black women.

Cicely Tyson as Nana Mama
     Tyson’s latest role is a prime example. She plays Nana Mama, the grandmother/mother figure in the Alex and Maria Cross household. Of course we are talking the new Tyler Perry action/thriller movie “Alex Cross.” Tyson really enjoyed working with Perry again. There is a scene where Perry grabs her from behind and lifts Tyson off of her feet. Was that something she was expecting from the script? She laughs, “No, No, I did not. I mean, as his mother, I certainly did not expect him to do that to me. But we do have a lot of very playful moments and he does that at a time when I’m getting at him to change my attitude towards him.” 

     What is Tyson’s take on her character Nana Mama? Turning serious, Tyson breaks it down, “Well first of all I think and what I hope the audience takes away is the fact that she is a mother. To me it’s the most important feature in her personality. And then add to that fact that if anything ever happened to her son, she would not only be grandmother but mother to his children. And so, I was torn between his love for the work that he chose and the fact that any day he could not come home to me nor his children. So that was extremely difficult for me."

Tyler Perry & Sayeed Shahidi
     The stress of being Nana Mama shows as the character is always cranky. Tyson agrees explaining, “Because she’s living on the edge. She’s living on a very threatening possibility she can loose him any day that he can walk out of that door and never come back. So she’s always on edge about that. He has consistently tried to kind of slough it off as I know what I’m doing, this is what I love doing and so on and so forth. But she knows the facts that his life is in absolute jeopardy. And as a result, so is mine and so are his children.”

Tyler Perry as Alex Cross
    Because this is Perry’s first action-hero film where he is strictly and actor and not the writer/director what butterfly did both have about working with each other under these circumstances? Tyson muses, “Oddly enough he (Perry) said to me time and time again, ‘I can’t believe I’m in a scene with Cicely Tyson.’ ‘I’m doing a scene with Cicely Tyson.’ He went to the director and said ‘I don’t know how to act; I’m doing a scene with Cicely Tyson.’ By the same token, I’m looking at him and I’m saying, ‘oh my God, I’m doing a scene with Tyler Perry.’ I’m really doing a dramatic scene with Tyler Perry.’ So we both actually had the same anxieties about working in this particular capacity with each other.

     Tyson has an incredible body of work. So when a new project comes her way, is there any pressure to except a certain level of project or does she take it for face value for what it is? Tyson says, “No I never take anything at face value. I have always maintained one way of selecting a role that I would play and it’s through reading the script. And if my skin tingles, I know it’s for me, if my stomach churns, I know it’s a pass. And that’s my way of deciding.

© 2012 Rych McCain Media/Syndication tm 
(You DID Hear It From Me!) 

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