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Tyson’s memoir, Just As I Am, was released this past Tuesday and quickly shot to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list after the actress’ death was confirmed by her manager on Thursday afternoon. By Friday, physical copies of the book were sold out on Amazon, though they’re still available at Barnes & Noble as of this writing.
Tyson’s memoir is still available to read online through Amazon Kindle, or as an audiobook via Audible. The audiobook is narrated by Tyson and Robin Miles, with Tyson’s close friend and How to Get Away With Murder co-star Viola Davis narrating the foreword.
Just As I Am was Tyson’s literary debut. The actress and activist co-wrote the book with Michelle Burford, a founding editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, and the 432-page hardcover was published by HarperCollins. The publisher released a statement on Twitter, calling Tyson an “icon” and “legend.”
Tyson had just appeared on CBS This Morning Tuesday to discuss her memoir with host Gayle King, telling King that she waited years to write her story, because she felt like she still had more to give. “That’s why I’m still here,” she said.
The memoir traces Tyson’s roots from growing up in Harlem and being raised in the church, to becoming a successful model and actress. While she would go on on to achieve incredible acclaim in Hollywood — earning Tonys, Emmys and an honorary Oscar — Tyson also experienced incredible racial and personal trauma during her years in the spotlight. As one of the most prolific black actresses in the industry, Tyson decided early on that she would take up the mantle for black storytelling and committed herself to using her voice for change. She decided, she told King, that “I would use my career as my platform.”
In the liner notes of the book, Tyson writes “I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.”
Asked by King how she would like to be remembered, Tyson was contemplative. “I’ve done by best,” she said. “That’s all.”
In addition to being a celebrated actress, Tyson was also a renowned producer, writer and civil rights activist. Cicely Tyson was 96.