NEW ORLEANS — Legendary Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier has died. The 94-year-old's award-winning career spanned decades and carved a path for those aspiring to be in film.
Actor, director and activist, Sidney Poitier was a Hollywood legend.
His film career began in the 1950's and he immediately made a name for himself.
"You can't be a Black actor without knowing Sidney Poitier," said Martin Bradford. "Because without Sidney Poitier, you don't have the Will Smiths, the Denzel Washingtons."
Actor Martin 'Bats' Bradford says Poitier's work, especially during the Civil Rights era, was inspiring. That the roles Poitier chose, he says, pushed our nation forward.
"No one was going to tell him who to be, he was himself at all times," he said. "You know you never really saw him being subservient. He was often empowered and powerful and for a black man to be in that role that was few and far between if ever. He was depicted as intelligent and exceptional."
Poitier's love of film and theater didn't go unnoticed. He was recognized with countless awards like the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. But it was what he won in 1964, Dillard Associate Professor of Theatre Corthal Clark says, was historic.
"For the Black culture we all should know he was the first African American male to win an Oscar," he said. "And that's very important because that helped break the barriers in Hollywood as well as on stage and on Broadway. When you look at the life of Sidney it's important his life wasn't in vain. I hope that aspiring actors take this time to pay homage to Sidney, but at the same time know how important he was as an actor, as a philanthropist and literary artist."
The 94-year-old was truly one-of-a-kind.
"He is the absolute definition of inspiring," Bradford said. "I'm trying to do the same and without him pushing open those doors, where would I be?"
And he leaves behind a legacy, many say they're thankful for, one that will never be forgotten.