There is a pervasive narrative that even now, in 2017, seeks to undermine the necessity, potential, and positive realities of Black men. It is one that has never sat right with me, personally and as part of the ICON MANN collective, because life experience and daily examples set by many great Black men -like you- tell me otherwise. Everyday there is an acute awareness of your grace, integrity, passion, pride, strength of character, and purpose. I am reminded of this each time I think of the legendary Sidney Poitier.
Much has been written about Mr. Poitier's more than 70 years in entertainment as an Actor, Director, Best-selling Author, the first Black man to win an Academy Award, Diplomat, global Humanitarian, and the list goes on. What has never been explored is the very reality of how his being and journey to these accomplishments have inspired an immeasurable amount of men--Black, White and beyond.
We are all the torchbearers of our history and as such we come together in an ICON MANN Salute to the 90th year of the legendary Mr. Sidney Poitier. Here you will find a behind the scenes capture of the full-length documentary feature that is currently in production. May it inspire you to not only document the legend in your life, but share with us how you honor him.
Peace and continued blessings,
Tamara N. Houston (Founder) + Blair Underwood,
“We owe everything that we’re doing now, and will do,
to the career that he has had.”
Long considered one of the greatest actors to grace the silver screen; American born-Bahamian raised Sidney Poitier’s first foray to acting was at the age of 16 where upon arriving in New York City, working as dishwasher to make ends meet, he responded to a casting call for American Negro Theater in Harlem.
Lacking prior performance experience Sidney was not an obvious fit for the theater but he had great determination to change the course of his life for better. To offset the cost of acting lessons, Sidney worked as a janitor at the American Negro Theater and soon found himself as the understudy to fellow icon-in-the-making Harry Belafonte. Filling in for Mr. Belafonte one evening, Sidney was discovered and cast in the 1946 Broadway production of the classic Greek play, Lysistrata.
In 1950, Sidney made his film debut in No Way Out, playing a doctor called on to treat two racist White robbery suspects. The role would earn the actor high praise and kick off a decade memorable film roles, including Cry, the Beloved Country, Blackboard Jungle, Porgy and Bess, and The Defiant Ones. This 1958 film co-starred Tony Curtis, and would score Sidney his first Academy Award nomination.
Four years later in 1963, Sidney would make history as the first Black actor to take home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of 'Homer Smith' in Lilies of the Field. The win not only cemented his place in Hollywood, but it would also set him on the course to become one of the most popular actors of all time. That decade, thanks to leading roles in films like A Raisin in the Sun, Paris Blues, To Sir, with Love, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night, Sidney’s star would burn even brighter and he would become one of the biggest box office draws in film.
In the 1970s, Sidney turned his attention to directing, stepping behind the camera for a string of films throughout the coming decades, including A Warm December, Uptown Saturday Night, and Stir Crazy.
Over the years, the esteemed actor has earned a slew of honors. In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, giving him the title "Sir." In 1982, he received the Golden Globe's Cecil B. DeMille Award and the Screen Actors Guild bestowed its Lifetime Achievement on the actor in 1999. In 2001, the NAACP Image Awards inducted him into the Hall of Fame and in 2009 President Barack Obama gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Born Feb. 27, 1927 in Miami, Florida. Three months later the family moves to Cat Island, Bahamas.
The Poitier family moves from Cat Island to Nassau, Bahamas.
Poitier moves to Miami to live with his older brother.
Fleeing racism in the South, he moves to New York City.
Poitier is accepted into the American Negro Theater and appears in an all-Black production of Lysistrata on Broadway.
The actor makes his film debut in No Way Out.
Poitier stars in Cry, the Beloved Country.
He stars in Blackboard Jungle .
Poitier is nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for Defiant Ones.
Poitier stars in Paris Blues and Porgy and Bess.
Poitier wins an Academy Award for Lilies in the Field and becomes the first Black actor to win Best Actor. He also participates in the March on Washington.
Poitier rules the box office with three films—To Sir, with Love, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night
Poitier makes his directorial debut with Buck and the Preacher
He directs the popular comedy, Uptown Saturday Night
Queen Elizabeth II appoints him as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Poitier releases This Life, his autobiography
He received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes
After a ten year break from film, he stars in Little Nikita
The American Film Institute honors him with a Lifetime Achievement Award
Poitier is honored at the 25th anniversary of Kennedy Center
He’s appointed as a non-resident ambassador to Japan from the Bahamas
Inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame
Poitier is presented with an honorary Oscar from the Academy
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama
ICON MANN™, a social enterprise committed to positively changing the global dialogue and imaging of the Black Male Diaspora through media content and influencer community engagement. ICON MANN cultivates a network among the most prominent Black Men, domestic and abroad, to create a programmatic pipeline of inspiration in the fields of Entertainment, Politics, Education, Finance/Business, Arts/Culture, Media, and Technology for the leaders of tomorrow.
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DOCUMENTARY COMING SOON