Cicely Tyson Wins First Tony Award At Age 79, Delivers Knockout Speech

Cicely Tyson waited close to eight decades before winning her first Tony Award, but when the Broadway star stepped to the award podium it seemed as if she belonged nowhere else.

In her final Broadway role, the 79-year-old actress finally won the award that had eluded her in many other noteworthy performances during her several decades acting. Cicely Tyson had actually been on a 30-year hiatus from Broadway but decided to come back to take a lead role in The Trip to Bountiful.

It was a good decision to return. On Sunday Tyson won the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her role as an elderly woman returning to her childhood home.

Stepping to the podium to receive her trophy, Tyson delivered an endearing speech that reflected on her time on the stage. She told the audience that she thought she would be done with acting, but felt pulled to come back just once more.

“I had a burning desire to do more great roles. I didn’t want to be greedy. Just one more,” she said.

Cicely Tyson also spoke from the heart during the Tony Award speech, talking about watching her family members pass away and how it caused her to reflect on her own life.

“I’m the sole surviving member of my immediate family. I’ve asked over and over again why,” she said. “I now know why.”

Tyson’s Tony Award win came after a number of other strong performances that left her empty-handed, including Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright and The Corn is Green.

Cicely Tyson is a versatile actress as well, scoring an Oscar nomination for her role in Sounder in 1972 and winning Emmy Awards for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.

Though Tyson was at the Tony Award podium for the first time, she was able to deftly handle pesky producers trying to get her to finish.

“Please wrap it up,” she said as they gave her a sign to complete her speech, “which is exactly what you did to me. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years, and now I can go home with a Tony.”

When she finally finished, Cicely Tyson was given a standing ovation for her Tony Award win.