Awards season is upon us again, and the Oscar nominations are out. I couldn’t help thinking that the acting categories, especially the male ones, lacked a certain something ie any ethnic diversity. Will Smith and Idris Elba – your ‘noms’ for Concussion and Beasts Of No Nation, respectively, must’ve been lost in the post. One awards ceremony (namely, the BAFTA’s) has addressed the balance, however, and will be honouring legendary actor Sir Sidney Poitier with a Fellowship Award at this year’s event.
Poitier is a highly distinguished and well-regarded actor, who exudes style and class, and he has paved the way for many actors and actresses that you see before you today. His name entered the history books when he became the first African-American to win a Best Actor Oscar in 1963, for his performance in Lilies In The Field. In films such as To Sir, With Love, and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Poitier tackled race-relations in a non-accusatory manner, making him a much-loved fixture in the film industry.
A principled man, who leads by example, Poitier was also awarded with the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, in 2009 by President Barack Obama.
Poitier, now aged 88, gave a characteristically eloquent and dignified response to his forthcoming BAFTA award: “I am extremely honoured to have been chosen to receive the Fellowship and my deep appreciation to the British Academy for the recognition.”
Sir Sidney Poiter – we salute you!