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Just as I Am: A Memoir von Cicely Tyson
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Just as I Am: A Memoir (2021. Auflage)

von Cicely Tyson (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1235177,194 (4.42)2
Titel:Just as I Am: A Memoir
Autoren:Cicely Tyson (Autor)
Info:HarperCollins Publishers (2021), 432 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek


Just As I Am von Cicely Tyson

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I received this book from my daughter as a Mothers Day gift. I couldn't wait to dive into its pages and get a history from the iconic Ms. Tyson. I read this book with my reading group, AAABDG (African American Authors Book Discussion Group) based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This was the August pick.

The forward by Actress, Viola Davis was emotional and empowering. I loved how Ms. Tyson (given all due respect) referenced her life as her winter. I guess that puts me in my late summer, early fall.

I decided to listen to the book in audio as I read along. Oh, the glory hearing The introduction ""This Life" was read by Ms. Tyson, with an occasional throaty laugh, was a treat. The remainder of the book was narrated by Robin Mile, who does a good job of relaying her story, and bringing Ms. Tyson back to life (Cicely Tyson has since deceased since the publication of this autobiography). I excitedly and in memoriam, watched her roles in the movies in between reading, Sounder 1972 (Rebecca), A Fall From Grace 2020 (Alice), and The Trip to Bountiful 1985 (Mrs. Watts).

Page 6 got my immediate attention when Ms. Tyson recanted the comment from a caucasian reporters' assessment from the movie Sounder - "I never thought of myself as being the least bit prejudiced, but as I watched the film, I just could not believe that the son was calling his father 'Daddy.' That is what my son calls me." Silence blanketed the room. What a profound moment! Using this encounter sparked her platform against racial injustice, bigotry, and the uneven pay amongst blacks.

Some of the highlights in the book speak of the dazzling variety of hues in their tribe, and every color was embraced. Elders regarded them as God’s most gorgeous creations (page 23). I loved how she described her mother as swelegant, a combination of “swell” and “elegant “ - blessed with a model’s figure and a wardrobe she’d tailored so precisely to her frame. Her father a Dapper Dan with swagger and style. I had no idea that you could repair runs in silk stockings (nylon repair shops).

The most memorable line in the book was said to Cicely by her mother - “What’s for you in this life, you will get. And what is not for you, you will never get” (page 215)

Ms. Tyson’s dad was artistically gifted. Tyson’s cousin, Donald Wallbridge Shirley, was the renowned classical and jazz pianist whose life is depicted in the Oscar Award winning film Green Book in 2018 (page 43).

Ms. Tyson worked many jobs that helped build her character. She was a transcriptionist for Save The Children, she also worked an assembly line of a nail factory, a secretary of a Navy Purchasing Office, a secretary at American Red Cross, just to name a few (page 118). Her working habits were garnered by watching her hard working parents.

Her mother's disapproval of her pursuing a career in acting became her liquid fuel, her source of strength. Before her mother put her out of the house, she had been attempting to prove to herself that she could excel as an actress. Her mother's displeasure pushed her, to prove her wrong (page 137).

Ms. Tyson’s cousin, Donald Wallbridge Shirley, was not only a legendary pianist and composer, he was also a trained psychologist. He was key in honing and recognizing Ms. Tyson’s ability to pick-up on things, intuition, sixth sense, scientifically referred to as Extra Sensory Perception (ESP).

She also chronologically detailed her relationship with American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis from the 1960’s, married Davis in 1981, and until his death in 1991. She has a school named after her in East New Jersey, and was personally involved.

Ms. Tyson was an iconic, influential actress who shattered stereotypes throughout her career from 1956 until her death in 2021, two days after the release of this book on January 26th at the age of 96.

This was a very good account of her life achievements, family, friends, health, and overall a life well lived, I enjoyed listening to her biography that is a thorough telling of more than just her career, but gives some history on the culture, fashion, and Jim Crow racism. Her revealing of innocence that led to early motherhood, and her strained relationship with her mother. This book was a wonderful glimpse into her life. ( )
  Onnaday | Aug 21, 2021 |
Pandemic read. Amazing woman. Amazing memoir. ( )
  bookczuk | May 8, 2021 |
Just as I am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson is a 2021 HarperCollins publication.

Magnificent! A Real Class Act!

Much like Viola Davis, who wrote the foreward for this book, my appreciation for Cicely Tyson came via her role as Miss Jane Pittman. I had seen the movie 'Sounder' a few years prior, but after a few key years maturity, seeing the actress made up to look one hundred and ten years old, made an even bigger impression on me at the time. I never forgot that performance and made a concerted effort to catch as many of Cicely’s shows and movies as possible over the coming years.

Despite that, I knew next to nothing about Cicely’s personal life- other than she had once been married to jazz great Miles Davis. When Ms. Cicely started doing promos for this memoir, I immediately put in a pre-release hold on it at the library, so I would be one of the first people to get a copy. Literally one day after my hold came through, I heard the news that Cicely had died.

Under normal circumstances, I would have put the book on a back burner after such a devastating event, not wanting to appear ghoulish. But, since this was a library loan, I forged ahead. I had already finished reading the book when I noticed the audio version was available on Scribd- so, I decided to listen to it on audio too- and loved both versions.

Ms. Cicely tells her story her own unique way, which was not always on a chronological train of thought. Yet, it is organized and fluid enough the timeline switches aren’t as jarring as they might be ordinarily. It wasn’t a big deal most of the time, and I was able to adapt quickly.

Tyson stuck to her principles by not accepting stereotypical roles and lived by her deeply religious moral code. She dealt with harassment and racism, workplace demands, and personal challenges throughout her life but…

She was a strong woman, tenacious and dedicated, and unafraid to stand up for herself, especially as she matured. While that might have yielded her a ‘difficult’ reputation as an actress, in her private life she was less inclined to vocal protests, instead using her work, and speaking through the characters she portrayed as a statement- and I would say her statements were mighty powerful indeed!

Her tumultuous relationship with Miles Davis was probably the most difficult passages to read. Cicely knew him well, understood his inner demons, and tried her best to help him beat them. Her approach here is light, but it was obvious that living with addiction and numerous infidelities took a heavy toll, bringing to the surface a different side of Cicely I wasn’t quite sure she recognized in herself.

No person is perfect, and of course when reading a memoir there are moments when we wonder about certain choices or poor judgement calls, but overall, I think Cicely was loved and well respected, and a quiet presence of strength and inspiration to many. She was an incredible actress, always elegant exemplary- and like Obama stated- She was just gorgeous!

I truly mourned the passing of this legendary actress. She remained one of very favorite actresses nearly my whole life and that is not something I get to say very often.

It is no surprise then that her memoir is not only revealing, poignant, but a true triumph!

Borrowing from one of Cicely’s characters- ‘Sipsey’ in Fried Green Tomatoes- ‘A lady always knows when to leave’- and Ms. Cicely was most definitely a lady.

4.5 stars ( )
  gpangel | Mar 23, 2021 |
#37. [Just as I Am: A Memoir], [[Cicely Tyson]]

I enjoyed this book but was also frustrated by it. It gives an interesting and honest accounting of the ups and downs in her life. An example being the abusive marriage between her parents, her father was a womanizer and it became violent when her mother could take no more, in the middle of the night, Cicely would be between her parents, crying, trying to stop the fight. Her own relationship with Miles Davis followed a similar pattern. However it was when she excused her father’s behaviour because his background came from slavery where Blacks were mistreated that I had a problem. Why do other men behave in the same fashion? I think it has more to do with power and guilt.

In other sections she talks about the poor Blacks as if they were the only immigrants to experience a hard life. What about the Irish, Italians, Poles and Spanish, to say nothing of the Jews? Each immigrant group left their families and home land under different circumstances and suffered for it. Africans were not given a choice, they were brought to North and South America as well as the Arab world to be slaves. It was much more drastic for them but that does not erase what happened to White immigrants. I capitalized White because, for the first time, I realized in reading this book that other ‘races’ were given that distinction but not Whites. Not in anything I have read.

Our experiences are the same and different but, as in the case of this book, more often separated in unusual ways. I am making a point of this because Tyson did, enough to make me think about more than one side of the immigration history. She talks about not having time to mourn her mother because Blacks have to go back to work to earn a living. This point is made in such a way that this reader thought she didn’t think it doesn’t happen to others, they have as much time as they want. This is not the case.

Tyson played some amazing, strong women in her career. She chose this as her way of protesting the life of Blacks in the United States. She did not carry banners and march in parades. She spoke through her art. One point she made was the few roles written for Black women actors. I am not a movie watcher so it is not something I had thought about before. In some cases I can see it making a difference, for example she portrayed Harriet Tubman and a maid in “The Help” roles that call for Black actors. On the other hand actors of different backgrounds have acted in Shakespeare’s work. Does the colour of the actor or the strength and experience they bring to a role matter more? I don’t know.

She earned many awards and honours for her acting as well as the work she did in promoting Blacks in this field. This included the Kennedy Honours and a special Oscar.

I found this book interesting but full of contradictions. It made me think of thinks that I am not sure Tyson expected. I don’t expect this to be accepted by all but I hope it makes you think when you read it. Which I think you should do.

Reviewed February 28, 2021

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 ( )
  pmarshall | Feb 28, 2021 |
This is an outstanding entry in the celebrity autobio genre, and how fortunate we are that it was released before Tyson's recent death. The focus here is on her relationships with her divorced parents and with her ex-husband, musician Miles Davis. Both of Tyson's parents, from the Caribbean island of Nevis, were extremely strong-willed influences. Her mother left her father due to his philandering when Tyson and her two siblings were young, and their financial struggles in Harlem were difficult, but as his favorite, she stayed close to her father. Harlem also nurtured her as she became a model and then went to an acting school run by Lloyd Richards, one of the fathers of Black theater. The choices Tyson made in her movie roles were stringent - she would not play a house cleaner or a prostitute, the primary roles offered in the '60s. The ones she accepted, in Sounder, Roots, Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Trip to Bountiful - were all uplifting and influential on other actors coming up. Of course, she knew EVERYONE and shares stories full of warmth about them all (except Elizabeth Taylor, whom she sued!). Her relationship with Miles was one of mutual true love and devotion, but she could not repair all the damage he absorbed from racism and addiction. Every word rings true and as if you are sharing a conversation.

Quotes: "The Great Depression was given a name just to show that enough whites were suffering to warrant an official title."

"During a good year, to be Black is to live with an ongoing hum of anxiety, a static ever present beneath life's high notes. During a plague and a racial revolution, to be Black is to be rendered deaf by the uproar, knowing that if this virus doesn't take you down, a blue knee on your neck or bullets in your back just might. When you leave your house, you're never quite sure whether you'll make it back alive, and that is no exaggeration. In this country, Blacks don't have to go looking for trouble. It finds us."

"No one bothers to undermine you unless they recognize your brilliance." ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 27, 2021 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Cicely TysonHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Burford, MichelleAutorCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
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