Tyler Perry is sharing some sweet words about his close, longtime friend Cicely Tyson.
The entertainment mogul wrote a heartfelt tribute to Tyson on Thursday night after learning she had died at the age of 96.
Tyson and Perry, 51, worked together on several films beginning with 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman as well as Why Did I Get Married?, Madea’s Family Reunion and Why Did I Get Married Too?
“I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway,” Perry wrote on Instagram. “Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died.”
He continued, “This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup.”
“My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next,” he wrote. “To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence.”
“Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen,” Perry added. “Every time we would talk I would ask, ‘How are you?’ and you would say, ‘I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.’ Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.”
Tyson’s manager Larry Thompson revealed the news of the icon’s passing in a statement, saying, “I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing. Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”
The actress’ career spanned more than 60 years. With more than 95 credits to her name, Tyson never tired of entertaining audiences, becoming famous for playing resilient, strong Black women.
“It’s very exciting to know that you are, hopefully, making a roadway for someone else to follow,” she recently told PEOPLE.
Tyson starred in decades of film and television including the notable 1972 drama Sounder, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which earned her two Emmy awards, as well as Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. In 2018, she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar.
She also scored Emmy nods for the miniseries Roots and King.
Tyson continued to play strong women in 2011’s The Help, and the TV series How to Get Away with Murder opposite Viola Davis and House of Cards.
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