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Meet the First Black Oscar-winning Actor

sidney poitier oscar

Sidney Poitier was an American actor, filmmaker, author, and diplomat. He is well known for being the first African American actor (actor, not actress) to ever win an Oscar, despite being nominated twice.

Sidney Poitier was reared in the Bahamas despite being born in Miami, Florida, in 1927. Most of his childhood was spent with his father on a farm, but when he was 15 years old, his father sent him back to Miami to live with his brother’s enormous family.

He later relocated to New York City and worked as a dishwasher there. He lied about his age in 1943 when he entered in the Army as a 16-year-old.

He started acting after the war when he got home. He had the talent to play on Broadway, and in the movie No Way Out, he eventually made his Hollywood debut. Following the incredibly successful release of the movie, he started getting many offers for significant roles that were greater than the ones being given to other African-American actors at the time.

For his role in The Defiant Ones, he made history by being the first Black male actor to ever be nominated for the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor. He received a second nomination for his performance in Lilies of the Field in 1964, and he went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor, being the first Black performer to do so.

Meet the First Black Oscar-winning Actor
12 Aug 2009, Washington DC, USA — epa01821985 US President Barack Obama awards American actor Sidney Poitier the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 12 August 2009. Poitier is the first African American to be nominated and win a Best Actor Academy Award, receive an award at a top international film festival (Venice Film Festival), and be the top grossing movie star in the United States. EPA/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH — Image by © MATTHEW CAVANAUGH/epa/Corbis

For his “outstanding performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with integrity, flair, and intelligence,” the Academy awarded Poitier an Honorary Oscar in 2002.

Sydney Poitier is the same name as his daughter, except she spells her first name differently, adding a “y.” She is also a well-known and award-winning actress best known for her parts in the television series Joan of Arcadia from the 2000s, the first season of Veronica Mars, and the UPN sitcom Abby.

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