At 93, Cicely Tyson Gets Her 1st Oscar—and Danai Gurira Gets Mistaken for Viola Davis?

Ava DuVernay presents an award to Cicely Tyson onstage during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 10th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

It was an honor more than 45 years in the making, but Cicely Tyson finally took home an Oscar on Sunday night at the 10th annual Governors Awards in Hollywood, Ca.


Voted on by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Governors Awards were created to grant honorary Oscars to entertainment legends who had not yet won an Academy Award. Tyson, who has amassed more than six decades in the industry in her still active career, has won a Tony and three Emmys, but her first and only Oscar nomination was for 1972's Sounder.

In an introduction reflecting on Tyson’s incredible career, Quincy Jones noted that “Her work, grace, dignity, class, humility and profound professionalism firmly placed her on the pedestal of Hollywood royalty, and now, at long last, I could not be more honored to say that tonight, Cicely Tyson receives her more than well-deserved Oscar.”

Director Ava DuVernay also gave a brief introduction before presenting Tyson her award, calling the acting legend “the seed for so many of us, the rose that we adore.”


Wearing a custom black and silver gown by longtime friend and couturier B. Michael, Tyson—who will celebrate her 94th birthday next month—ascended the stage.

“This is a culmination of all those years of haves and have nots,” she told the audience, which included Oprah, Lupita Nyong’o, Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, Chadwick Boseman, Shonda Rhimes, Spike Lee, Anita Hill, Mahershala Ali, Michael B. Jordan... and The Root’s own Monique Judge, who will be giving us an insider’s perspective on the event.


Of course, there were also a fair amount of 2019 Oscar hopefuls in attendance at the Governors Awards, which are often considered an opportunity to campaign prior to the awards season nominations. Notably, primary members of the Black Panther cast were on site, as was Widows director Steve McQueen.


Perhaps that’s why at least one stock photo agency (with several others following suit) mistook Black Panther’s Danai Gurira for Widows star Viola Davis (who was not in attendance on Sunday night).


While we’ve never had trouble telling these two actresses apart, a quick glance at Twitter quickly indicated that others apparently have—though a few Facebook users took major offense at the gaffe, even wondering if the mixup was intentional.

Since Davis and Gurira share a mutual admiration, we doubt they’d be deeply offended, but with both films in the running to garner nominations in the upcoming awards season (and Gurira recently scoring a People’s Choice Award for “Action Star of 2018” for her role as General Okoye), photographers and media alike would do well to distinguish between the two. But for the record, we’d love to see this dynamic duo act opposite each other—maybe in a family drama?


And then, of course, there was the red carpet—which was black for the Governors Awards (prophetically, we hope). The stars came out to shine gorgeously in Prada to Tom Ford, stoking our excitement for 2019's film awards season. Wondering how your fave fashioned up for the big event? Check out our slideshow.


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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.