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Award-Winning Actor

Sidney Poitier: Biography at a Glance

  • First African-American actor to win an Oscar for best actor for his role in “Lilies of the Field”
  • Film credits include “No Way Out,” “The Blackboard Jungle,” “The Defiant Ones,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night”
  • Served as the Bahamas’ Ambassador to Japan and UNESCO
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama
  • Speaks about the importance of diversity and humanitarian causes 
Award-Winning Actor

Academy Award-winning actor, writer, director, and diplomat (he served as the Bahamas’ ambassador to Japan and UNESCO), Sidney Poitier has been a political and artistic trailblazer for more than half a century. On the lecture stage he recounts the uplifting story of his life--from his childhood as the son of poor tomato farmers to his pioneering cinematic career--in inspiring audiences to pursue their dreams no matter what the odds.

He also speaks with passion about the importance of diversity and about the humanitarian causes that most deeply concern him, in motivating others to make a difference in the world around them.

Sidney has had an incalculable impact on American culture since the early 1950s, when he began appearing in a string of groundbreaking movies that addressed issues of racial and social inequality.

To listening audiences he narrates his courageous struggle to achieve equality for himself and other black actors, as well as the films that would make him one of the world’s most popular and respected actors, including No Way Out, The Blackboard Jungle, Lilies of the Field, The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. For these cinematic milestones he received the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2000, in 2002 was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and in 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

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