Arts

Film Professor Nsenga Burton Brings Insight To The Career And Legacy Of Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson was an award-wining actor and fashion model who rose to fame for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in the film "Sounder."
Cicely Tyson was an award-wining actor and fashion model who rose to fame for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in the film "Sounder."
Credit / Associated Press

The world lost a great actress when Cicely Tyson died in late January. Beyond her talent on stage and on screen, Tyson advanced the opportunities for younger Black actors. Dr. Nsenga Burton is a professor of film and media studies at Emory University. She joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to discuss some pivotal films Tyson performed in.

Tyson began her career as a model before pursuing acting in her thirties. She was hesitant at first to have an acting career due to her raising and being a young mother. “She was very particular about her roles and about the representation of Black people in general and Black women specifically,” said Burton. She continued, “I think ‘Sounder’ was the movie that established her as a leading actress because she had done bits and pieces on TV shows like ‘Gun Smoke’ and ‘Mission Impossible,’ ‘The Bill Cosby Show.’ So she had been dabbling, but this is definitely the role that established her as a powerhouse.”

List of films discussed in the interview:

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