'Saturday Night Live': Who is Cicely Tyson? Here's all you need to know about SNL's first Black woman host

Issa Rae hosted this week's SNL and she joked that she's the first Black person to host, before clarifying, 'I’m not, but you believed it for a sec'

                            'Saturday Night Live': Who is Cicely Tyson? Here's all you need to know about SNL's first Black woman host
Cicely Tyson (Getty Images)

The October 17 episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’ marked the debut of Issa Rae as a guest host. She said that it was an honor for her to walk and perform on the same stage as some of the comedy stars who came before her, including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. She said she was nervous. Rae joked, “I’m scared that I might throw up but I gotta hold it down because I’m the first black person to host SNL y’all.” She was quick to clarify, “I’m not, but you believed it for a sec.”

So, why was Twitter abuzz, Joi-Marie McKenzie Lewis, deputy editor of entertainment at Insider, tweeted, “During her opening monologue, @IssaRae jokes she’s the first Black person to host #SNL. Fun fact: that was actually Cecily Tyson, who is in the history books for being the first Black woman to host in season four.” She got the spelling wrong though, it is Cicely Tyson.


Who is Cicely Tyson?

In 1979, she had hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’. The actress achieved acclaim for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in ‘Sounder’ and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in the film. Her role as the protagonist in the television film ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’, earned her further praise and accolades. For that role, she won two Emmy Awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

She has appeared in the award-winning film ‘The Help’. Tyson was also in ABC's legal drama ‘How to Get Away With Murder’, for which she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In November 2016, Tyson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

As reported by Essence, Harper Collins, last month announced that Tyson’s memoir, ‘Just As I Am’, written in collaboration with Oprah Magazine founding editor Michelle Burford, will be released in 2021. In a statement, she said, “At 95, I’m only beginning to fully understand my identity. The accolades, the lights, the glamour and glitter—they’re all just ornaments on a tree. It is only a tree’s roots, its origins beneath the soil, that can reveal its entire story.” She added, “Every one of my experiences on the public stage has been rooted in my upbringing, those years spent at my mother’s elbow and in the pews of my church. That was my world. And that foundation, that core, led me to a lifetime of growth—a wondrous journey that has made me who I am.”

Essence reports that in the book, Tyson will talk about her eight-year marriage to Miles Davis, and her friendships with Whoopi Goldberg and Kerry Washington along with her frequent contemporary collaborators, such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, and Viola Davis.

‘Saturday Night Live’ airs on NBC at 11.30 pm ET.

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