Watch Ava DuVernay’s Moving Tribute to Cicely Tyson

The director got help from Lupita Nyongo and Oprah to honor the actor at the Governors Awards.

Cicely Tyson, the iconic actor who starred in films like The HelpFried Green Tomatoes, and Sounder, is now the first black woman to receive an honorary Oscar. To celebrate this achievement, director Ava DuVernary rounded up many of the famous actors, directors, and producers who've followed in Tyson’s footsteps, and tasked them with describing her.

“I asked some of the women who join me in calling you our queen to describe you in one word,” she explained. (Apparently there was a group text about it—which, how can I get in on that?!).

The full list of responses, which DuVernay shared on Instagram, was incredible. Take a look at all the iconic women whom DuVernay got to honor Tyson:

DuVernay herself used the word “flower” and quoted Georgia O’Keefe: “Nobody sees a flower, really...I make people take time to look.” She told Tyson, “You are the maker of the flower. You are the seed for so many of us, the rose that we adore.”

DuVernay's known for her own efforts to break boundaries and bring inclusivity to Hollywood. As director of A Wrinkle in Time, she became the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of more than $100 million. She also founded ARRAY, an indie-film-distribution company that supports movies made by women and people of color.

And she recognized Tyson as one of the people to come before her. “We’re proud to honor you tonight, and to finally say, ‘And the winner is: Cicely Tyson.’”

Watch her full speech above, as well as Tyson's acceptance speech, here:

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Katherine J Igoe
Katherine J Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributing editor at Marie Claire online who covers celebrity, fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle—from “The Bachelor” to Everlane to Meghan Markle. She also edits the Couples + Money series, so she’s always looking for volunteers at couples.money@hearst.com. Igoe: “I go to the store,” not “Her huge ego".