After a lauded career in Hollywood, Cicely Tyson is getting the recognition of a lifetime.
Tyson, 95, was selected for the Peabody Career Achievement Award for her renowned work on the stage, in film and on television.
With a career spanning over 70 years, Tyson has inspired a slew of Hollywood stars, including Oprah Winfrey and Viola Davis, who honored Tyson in a video tribute, exclusive to PEOPLE. (The tribute was filmed weeks before the killing of George Floyd, which ignited Black Lives Matter protests around the world.)
“Cicely Tyson, throughout your incomparable career, you’ve chosen to bring to life women of hope, determination, grit and grace because that is who you are,” Winfrey, 66, said in the video. “Your integrity is impeccable.”
“So I thank you for not just paving the way for me and every other black woman who dared to have a career in entertainment, but being the way,” Winfrey added.
Davis, who worked with Tyson during a mashup of How To Get Away With Murder and Scandal, said, “You have made it possible for girls like me, even girls who are not girls of color, but especially black girls, you’ve allowed us to be seen and you’ve allowed us to feel worthy.”
Jeffrey P. Jones, the executive director of Peabody, said, “Cicely Tyson’s uncompromising commitment to using her craft to address the big issues of her time—gender equality, racial and social justice, equity and inclusion—places her in rare company. And she did so when speaking up and speaking out invited stigma, isolation, and retribution.”
He added, “She was a seminal figure of her time, and ahead of her time”
Tyson’s career has spanned 94 films and TV shows including roles in The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes and Diary of a Mad Black Woman.
The actress gained widespread attention for her role in the 1972 film Sounder. She was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her performance in the film.
She gained further praise and critical claim for her performance in the 1974 TV film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman for which she won two Emmy Awards and earned a BAFTA Award nomination.
In 2013, Tyson won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Carrie Watts in the play The Trip to Bountiful.
She made history in 2018 as the first black woman to receive an honorary Oscar.
“I don’t know that I would cherish a better gift,” Tyson said during her acceptance speech. “This is the culmination of all those years of haves and have not.”
The Peabody 30, including Institutional Winners, will be announced Wednesday, June 10. For more information, visit peabodyawards.com.