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  • Writer's pictureShari Henry

Remembering the Legacy of my Aunt, Cicely Tyson on Her 99th Birthday

Updated: Dec 19, 2023


Still scene shot of Cicely Tyson and Shari Henry guest appearance on CBS hit series "Madame Secretary" for series finale

Cicely Tyson and Shari Henry guest appearing on CBS "Madame Secretary"


Cicely Tyson and Shari Henry at reception in Lounge at Spirit of Faith Church in Maryland


As we mark the 99th anniversary of Cicely Tyson's life, we celebrate the remarkable journey of a trailblazing icon. Her legacy extends far beyond the boundaries of the entertainment industry, transcending time and touching the hearts of generations. Cicely's indomitable spirit, unwavering commitment to authenticity, and groundbreaking contributions have left an indelible mark on the world. Her resilience, grace, and ability to challenge norms continue to inspire and empower. As we honor the life of this legendary actress, let us reflect on the enduring impact she has had on the arts, civil rights, and the human spirit. Cicely Tyson's story is a testament to the power of passion, purpose, and perseverance, and her influence will continue to resonate for generations to come.


 

I vividly remember the day I stepped into the world of entertainment, guided by the iconic Cicely Tyson as my mentor, former boss, and great aunt. It was an experience that forever altered the course of my life, shaping not only my career but also my perspective on the entertainment industry.


Cicely Tyson, a name synonymous with grace, talent, and trailblazing achievements in the world of film and television, became more than just a mentor to me – she was my guiding star. As her personal assistant and stylist, I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the charisma, wisdom, and sheer determination that propelled her to legendary status.


I was already making my mark in the fashion world, but little did I know that my journey would soon take a remarkable turn. Fate had a delightful surprise in store for me when I was offered the position to assist The Cicely Tyson.


One of the most valuable lessons I learned from Cicely Tyson was the importance of authenticity in the world. She often stressed the significance of staying true to oneself and never compromising one's values or principles for the sake of success. Cicely had a profound belief that artists should use their platforms to inspire and uplift, and this philosophy resonated with me on a profound level.


In the fast-paced and often unpredictable world of entertainment, Cicely's advice served as a beacon of wisdom. She emphasized the necessity of patience and perseverance, reminding me that success rarely happens overnight. Her journey to stardom was marked by years of hard work and determination, and she encouraged me to embrace the same spirit.


One of the most unforgettable experiences during my time with Cicely was our involvement in the hit CBS series "Madame Secretary." I had the honor of appearing alongside her in a memorable guest role, donning one of my own original creations. It was a surreal moment to share the screen with my mentor, and it further reinforced the idea that dreams can become reality with dedication and perseverance.


Cicely's influence extended beyond the set. She often encouraged me to take risks and explore new horizons within the fashion and entertainment industry. Her unwavering support and belief in my abilities bolstered my confidence to step out of my comfort zone. Under her wing, I ventured into the world of film, working on unforgettable projects like Tyler Perry's "A Fall From Grace," ABC's "How To Get Away With Murder," and Ava DuVernay's "Cherish The Day."


One of the most valuable pieces of advice Cicely Tyson imparted to me was the importance of storytelling. She believed that storytelling had the power to change hearts and minds, and she urged me to infuse my creativity and unique perspective into every project I undertook. Her words resonated deeply with me, and I made it my mission to incorporate storytelling into my designs.


Beyond the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, Cicely Tyson was a woman of profound compassion and empathy. She encouraged me to use my talents to make a difference in the world. During the challenging days of the pandemic, I channeled my passion into crafting handmade PPE and sharing food with underprivileged youth. Cicely's commitment to social causes left an indelible mark on my own sense of social responsibility.


Cicely Tyson's influence reached far beyond the confines of our professional relationship. She became a mentor, a friend, and a source of inspiration. Her legacy of grace, authenticity, and resilience continues to shape my approach to both the fashion and entertainment worlds.


As I prepare to launch my Spring/Summer 2024 collection, I do so with a sense of gratitude for the invaluable lessons I learned from Cicely Tyson. This collection is more than just clothing; it's a personal testament of faith and growth. Just like the natural world experiences changes that shape its beauty, I've weathered my storms and cherished my rainbows. Cicely's enduring message was simple: keep moving forward, no matter the odds.


My journey with Cicely Tyson was a transformative and enriching chapter in my life. Her mentorship, wisdom, and friendship continue to inspire me every day. As I navigate the fashion and entertainment industries, I carry her legacy of authenticity, resilience, and compassion with me, and I'm deeply grateful for the impact she had on my life and career.


Happy Birthday Auntie, I love you.

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