*The American Theatre Wing honored Cicely Tyson as part of its annual Gala last month, and Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson were among the stars who came out to pay tribute to the icon.
“I must tell you how great the new African American Museum is. We had nothing to explore before. Seeing this history’s important for us. Like the sleeping car our people had to live in to build our railways. That’s still going on today. A young generation may now realize what we’ve given to this country,” Jackson said. The actor was accompanied by his wife, who he had to ditch at the celebration while he attended another event, Page Six reports.
“I’m leaving, LaTanya’s staying,” he said. “I revere Cicely so I came for red- carpet photos, but my film ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,’ which opens Friday, is premiering here tonight. I play the villain. I have to be there.”
READ RELATED STORY: Cicely Tyson Reflects on Six Decades of Award-winning Performances
Tyson may be best known for her double Emmy Award-winning performance as Jane in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (Best Lead Actress in a Drama as well as an unprecedented Special Emmy for Actress of the Year), notes Playbill.com. She garnered an Academy Award nomination for “Sounder” and received her third Emmy Award for “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”
“Cicely Tyson exemplifies what the American Theatre Wing is all about, from her career-defining performances, to her passionate commitment to arts education via her namesake performing and fine arts school,” said Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the Wing, in an earlier statement. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor her at this year’s Gala.”
Funds raised at the annual event provide support for Wing’s theatre programs, which ensure that the next generation is “on the stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience,” according to a statement.