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Sidney Poitier, Pioneering Actor, Dies at 94

Sidney Poitier was the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor, for “Lilies of the Field,” and helped open the door for Black actors in the film industry.

I was overwhelmed. Thirty-seven years is quite a long wait. I got there on my terms. My terms meant that I would get there if I am accepted as I perceived myself. I was an African American actor. That was who I was. [Reporter:] “Mr. Poitier. Mr. Poitier.” It is the actor’s job to create the essence of the man, and to do that, we need more than his gestures and more than the cadence of his speech. We need to understand the values that are the foundation of the personality. Was it a thrill for me to accept the role? Well, first the thrill was to have been offered the role, and accepting it was never a question. I admire the man, not just because of his colossal achievements, but also because of who he was, his strength of character, his willingness to stand up and be counted, and the way he plotted and navigated his life’s journey. I’m appreciative. It’s the one — I follow some of the very best actors in America. I don’t know that I’m worthy of being in that kind of company, but I certainly respect them to the point that I would appreciate being in such company.

International

Sidney Poitier, Pioneering Actor, Dies at 94

January 7, 2022

Sidney Poitier was the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor, for “Lilies of the Field,” and helped open the door for Black actors in the film industry.

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International video coverage from The New York Times.
International video coverage from The New York Times.