Viola Davis Pays Tribute to TV Mom Cicely Tyson: 'You Gave Me Permission to Dream'
The Sounder actress died at age 96, her longtime manager, Larry Thompson, confirmed on Thursday.
Tyson starred as Davis's mother on How to Get Away With Murder. They both also starred in The Help.
Even before they worked together, Davis, 55, said the late actress made an impression on her.
"I'm devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me!" the actress wrote alongside a photo of the on-screen mother-daughter duo hugging on set.
"You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls," Davis said. "You gave me permission to dream....because it was only in my dreams that I could see the possibilities in myself."
The actress continued, "I'm not ready for you to be my angel yet. But...I also understand that it's only when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that you'll truly be dead. In that case, you will be immortal."
"Thank you for shifting my life. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for loving me," Davis concluded her tribute. "Rest well 💔💔💔."
Tyson's powerful roles were important for many Black women in Hollywood. She portrayed dynamic characters that broke barriers when it came to gender roles and race.
"It's very exciting to know that you are, hopefully, making a roadway for someone else to follow," the Peabody Award recipient told PEOPLE earlier this month.
"I realized very early on when I was asked certain questions or treated in a certain way that I needed to use my career to address those issues," Tyson told PEOPLE at the "I Have a Dream" Foundation's Spirit of the Dream Annual Spring Gala in June 2016.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman star added, "I used my career as my platform in an effort to address these issues, and every now and then when I receive an achievement award I realize that I did make the right choices. The sacrifices that I made as a result were worth it."