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Cicely Tyson Talks Winning a Tony, Obama and More

There is a beach with fluffy sand in Cicely Tyson’s future. She can’t wait to reach it. Just don’t ask where it is.

The newly crowned Tony Award winner is counting down the days until Oct. 9, when she ends her starring role in “The Trip to Bountiful,” and relaxes in the sun and surf.

“There’s one place that I have in mind. One place. That’s where I go. And nobody knows it. I just jump on a plane and I’m gone and nobody has a number or an email or anything,” she says, smiling.

Tyson will have earned her spot in the sun after returning to Broadway after 30 years, garnering rapturous reviews, winning a Tony at age 88, and performing for an audience that included the first lady and her daughters.

“What I keep repeating to myself is, ‘All things are possible. You really just have to believe,’” she says over hot water and lemon at the Cafe Carlyle. “It gives me such great joy just to build a character that is so real to people.”

Tyson hasn’t missed a single performance since the revival of Horton Foote’s play opened its doors on March 30. She plays Carrie Watts, a widow who shares a cramped two-room apartment in Houston in 1953 with her devoted son and overbearing daughter-in-law.

Watts’ only desire is to revisit her old home in Bountiful and recapture the purpose she seemed to have lost when she left for the big city decades prior. Tyson was smitten by the play when she saw Geraldine Page in a movie version in the 1980s, and has been bugging her agent for her own “Trip to Bountiful” for years.

“I was just asking for another great role. I have been really fortunate, really blessed,” she says. “I have had the most wonderful characters to play. I thought, ‘I just want one more of those. Just one more. I won’t be greedy. I’ll move out of the way and let young folks take over.’”



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