Cicely Tyson to be Given Honor at Biff Party

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CICELY Tyson, the award-winning film, television and stage actress, will be the first to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Award at this year’s Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) Oscar Party later this month, Tribune 242 reports.

Mrs Tyson – whose screen credits span more than 60 years – will be on hand for the special tribute and presentation at Graycliff on Sunday, February 28, BIFF Founder and Executive Director Leslie Vanderpool announced yesterday. Academy Award winner and global icon Sir Sidney Poitier has agreed to the naming of the BIFF Career Achievement Award after him.

“Cicely Tyson is an immensely gracious and beautiful woman, an extraordinary actress who has broken barriers in film and in her theatrical performances,” Ms Vanderpool said. “Mrs Tyson is also known to be an advocate for civil rights and the basic of human kindness. She is the governess of acting and a true role model for all men and women of colour. She has broken ceilings and paved the way for excellence and it is an incredible honour to have Cicely Tyson to receive the first Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival. We’re honoured to recognise her amazing career on this special evening.”

Actress, model and photographer, Mrs Tyson has long been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television and has carefully chosen characters that depict positive role models. She was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1977.

As an actress, her film, television and theater credits range from ‘Moon on a Rainbow Shawl’ where she received a Drama Desk Award in 1962 for her off-Broadway performance; ‘Sounder’ in which she was nominated for the Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress for her performance as Rebecca Morgan, to starring in ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’, for which she won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award.

One of her most outstanding performances was her role on television as Kunta Kinte’s mother in the adaptation of Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’. She starred in an array of television shows and motion pictures, including the critically acclaimed ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, ‘Hoodlum’, ‘Diary Of A Mad Black Woman’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married?’

In 2011, Tyson starred in ‘The Help’, produced by Lee Daniels, a friend of the BIFF, and she received awards for her ensemble work as Constantine from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Screen Actors Guild, for whom she has an additional four award nominations. In 2014, she starred on Broadway in ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ as Carrie Watts, for which she won the Tony Award, Outer Critics Award, and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play. In 2015 a film starring Mrs Tyson, ‘Showing Roots’, directed by Michael Wilson and produced by Susan Batten won the grand jury award for the Spirit Of Freedom Narrative Award at the 2015 BIFF.

She has gained great respect for her work in serving underprivileged communities, spending time supporting the Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts, a magnet school in East Orange, New Jersey.

A native of New York City, Tyson grew up in Harlem. At a very young age she pursued a modelling career and was eventually drawn to acting. She was passionate about the roles she accepted and explained in a 1983 interview, “Unless a piece really said something, I had no interest in it. I have got to know that I have served some purpose here.”

Mrs Tyson said she was honoured to be receiving the inaugural Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Award. “This award, in recognition of my dear friend and colleague, delights my heart,” she said. “Both Sidney and I have always tried to use our career to not only entertain and enlighten but to educate as well. The Bahamas International Film Festival has become a very important avenue to highlight the work of film, filmmakers and artists.”

Sir Sidney said: “Leslie Vanderpool’s efforts have been extraordinary in making it possible for The Bahamas to have not only a film festival, but to also attract some of the great film artists and filmmakers from around the world. People like Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Glover, Alan Arkin, Sir Sean Connery, Sophie Okonedo, Lee Daniels, Lenny Kravitz and my own daughter Sydney Tamiia Poitier, who have found, to their great surprise, that the Bahamas is moving swiftly toward a bona fide motion picture community – all of which have been structured by the imaginative young Bahamians who have committed themselves to The Bahamas having a film community of its own.”

The Festival will be celebrating 13 years on December 5 to 11, having established itself as a marquee international event and non-profit organisation in the Caribbean region, discovering and promoting independent voices and talent from around the world and showcasing a diverse array of international films.

The 2016 BIFF Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Award will be presented to Mrs Tyson at the 2016 BIFF Oscar Party and Haven Awards sponsored by Scotia Wealth Management on February 28. The Tribute will be moderated by Patty Roker, a writer, broadcaster, well known commercial voice and script editor of last year’s Haven Award winner, ‘The Gentle Giant’. She will be conducting the conversation with Mrs Tyson about her life, her career and her special outlook on the business of acting.

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