Cicely Tyson Recalled Mother's 'Condemnation' of Acting Career and Setting Out to 'Prove Her Wrong'

Cicely Tyson Recalled Mother's 'Condemnation' of Acting Career and Setting Out to 'Prove Her Wrong'

Cicely Tyson opened up about how her career choice affected her relationship with her mother in her memoir, which was published just days before her death.

The groundbreaking actress died last Thursday at the age of 96, and in her book, <em>Just As I Am</em> — which hit shelves Jan. 26 — Tyson recalls telling her mom that she was taking an acting job. Her mother urged against the idea since she felt the line of work was "pure sin," and she kicked her out of the house.

"There was no sense in arguing with my mother. What she was forbidding me to do I was already headlong into doing, with no intention of reversing course," Tyson wrote in her memoir.

Tyson asked a friend if she could stay in a spare bedroom, and she moved in. She recalled that she did not speak with her mom for "nearly a year" after that, and they didn't see each other for almost two years.

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"As devastated as I was by her choice, as deeply as her words had sliced through me, I knew she'd made the only decision she felt she could," wrote Tyson.

She added: "Mom had hoped to douse my burgeoning dream with her condemnation, prayed she could snuff it out with a stinging decree. But she'd inadvertently lit a match beneath me."

Eventually, Tyson invited her mom to watch her perform onstage, writing that, despite the situation, she still wanted the validation.

After the play, Tyson found her mother and overheard her bragging about the actress to family members.

"As she'd observed me from her place in the audience, open-mouthed and spellbound, she'd seen me as she could not have before, in that way you can see a thing only when you pull back from it, when you step away so you can marvel at its entirety," she wrote.

Tyson also recounted her disagreement with her mother to InStyle in December, telling the magazine: "I loved performing in church, and when I got older, I dreamed of going into show business. But my mother didn't like that idea. She told me if I was going to do that, I had to leave her house. And so I did."

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson with Michelle Burford is now available wherever books are sold.

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