Monday, February 20, 2017

Sidney Poitier, change agent

SIDNEY POITIER, 90 years young today, has been a touchstone and a sounding board for generations of black and minority filmmakers hoping to make their mark on the most popular art form in the world.

On the occasion of the birthday of the award-winning icon — now the oldest living Best Actor Oscar winner — I’m revisiting an interview I had with him in February 1989, while working on the culture desk of The New York Times. Reading it again, I’m confident that his sense of mission, purpose and clear-eyed intention — not just about the movies but also about life — hasn’t dimmed.

Something he said has stuck with me: It was his self-realization of the challenges he faced in the Hollywood of what is now more than 65 years ago: The impact of the black audience is expressing itself. They look to films to be more expressive of their needs, their lives. Hollywood has gotten that message — finally.”

But more was needed, he said. “If we look at the movement — and clearly there has been some — it's been healthy evidence of good growth on the part of the industry. But let's not think that minority representation on the screen or off is anywhere near what it should be. It doesn't hold true for blacks, for Hispanics or for Asians.”

Read the full interview at The New York Times

Image credit: FameFlynet Pictures. Image @Michael

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