Cicely Tyson Reflects on Her Legendary Career in Final TV Interview

Cicely Tyson Final Interview

Less than 24 hours after the world learned of Cicely Tyson‘s death, the late actress appeared in a pre-taped interview during Friday’s episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan.

Tyson’s visit to the daytime talk show was in promotion of her new book Just as I Am: A Memoir, which hit shelves on Jan. 26.

The interview began with a story from the 96-year-old actress’ earliest days. When Tyson was just a baby, a stranger told her mother that she was going to grow up to be incredibly successful. Tyson explained that she was shy as a child (“I sucked this thumb for 12 years”), which made her a keen observer of humanity. “I listened and I learned why people said and did the things that they did.”

Looking back on her incredible career, Tyson said, “I never thought that I would be nominated for an Oscar, but I used to watch the event every year. One night, I watched it and I said, ‘I’m going to sit in that front row one day.’ And I ended up doing that for the role of Rebecca in Sounder,” a role she was originally considered “too young” and “too sexy” to play. The part was offered to another actress, who ultimately turned it down.

“I have been an actress my whole career who’s never been paid any money, because I never really worked for money,” she explained. “I’ve worked because there were certain issues that I wish were addressed about myself and my race as a Black woman.”

When asked for her health tips, she told the co-hosts, “I never smoked, I never drank and I never did drugs. When Martin Luther King was assassinated, I was so stunned by that that I became a vegetarian. And I’ve been one most of my life.”

“To say Cicely Tyson was an American legend would be too great an understatement,” Kelly Ripa said in a special message at the top of the hour. “We were honored to speak with her … and devastated to learn of her passing. She was a trailblazer who broke barriers for Black actresses and women everywhere. Cicely was a portrait of courage, dignity and grace. We feel very fortunate to share with you her last interview.”

The Live team released the following statement on Thursday evening: “Yesterday, Kelly and Ryan were honored to have the chance to interview the iconic Cicely Tyson, for a pre-taped show airing tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 29. Tonight the Live with Kelly and Ryan team was devastated to learn of her passing. They have decided to proceed and air the show and interview as originally scheduled. The hosts, staff and crew of “Live” send their deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Miss Tyson, and hope that the interview serves as a fitting tribute to this legendary actress.”

From a Kennedy Center honor to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Tyson earned countless accolades throughout her incredible, decades-long career as a trailblazing actress. Her trophy case also includes three Primetime Emmys, a Tony, a Peabody and an Academy Award. She was 96 years old.

Official video will be added when it becomes available. In the meantime, drop a comment with your thoughts on Tyson’s interview below.