New York (AFP) – In 1963, Sidney Poitier made a movie in Arizona called Lilies of the Field. The performance led to a major breakthrough: he became the first black Oscar winner.
Now, Arizona is another career location for the legendary actor and director – Arizona State University named the new film school after him. Sydney Poitier New American Film School It was revealed in a virtual party on Monday.
The decision to name the school after Poitiers, 93, is about much more than his accomplishments and legacy, but because it “embodies in his person what we strive to achieve – matching distinction, drive and passion with social and social purpose,” said Michael M. Crowe, president of the university, “the results, all The things his career really represents. ”
“You’re looking for an icon, someone who embodies everything you stand for,” Crowe said in a previous interview. “With Sidney Poitier, it’s his creative energy, his drive, his drive, the ambition, the kinds of projects he’s worked on, the ways in which he has advanced his life.”
“Look at his life: it’s the story of someone who found a way,” he said of the Miami-born and Bahamian actor, the son of a tomato grower, before starting a career that started from small. The hard-earned stage parts for eventual Hollywood stars. “How do we help other young people find their way?”
The university, which is expanding its current film program into its own private school, says it has invested millions of dollars in technology to create what is intended to be one of the largest, most diverse, and most accessible film schools. Like the wider university, Crowe said, the film school will measure success not by exclusivity but by inclusiveness.
By expanding its financial resources and flexible learning options such as studying online, it hopes to enroll thousands of other students, teaching them skills beyond traditional filmmaking.
In the fall of 2022, the school will move to a new facility in downtown Mesa, Arizona, 7 miles from the Tempe campus. It will also occupy the new University Center in Los Angeles.
The university did not make Poitiers, who had been out of sight for some time, available for an interview. His daughter, Beverly Poitier-Henderson, told The Associated Press that her father “does well and enjoys his family,” and considers it an honor to be named to the new film school.
Poitiers Henderson and two other Poitiers daughters described in interviews how the film school’s focus on inclusivity and reach aligns with their father’s ideals.
Like her father a filmmaker, Anika Poitier said: “If there is my father’s name on it, it must be comprehensive, because this is the basis of who he is and what he represents.” “And it is important that it is not just about inclusion, but that you have diversity, and that you give people the opportunity to tell their stories. I think it is imperative to cast a wide net and allow anyone who is called to tell their story to learn how to do so.”
Sidney Poitier Hartsung, the actor’s younger daughter, noted that the two most important things to her father while growing up were education and the arts.
“These two paths that run throughout his life, define what he contributed and determine what he felt was important to pass on to his children,” she said. Arts were also a form of education. He wanted to pass that on to all the young people, but specifically the young people of color. “
Following in her father’s footsteps in acting, Poitier Hartsung added that the new school had a particular resonance at a time when “we realized that from a socio-economic point of view, many (elite) schools disproportionately exclude people of color – and people who do not have the means to go to them. This is the opposite of what my father wants to be a part of. “
She noted that at Poitier’s heyday, when he won an Oscar, one of his biggest complaints was that “he was the only one there, and he wanted others to be with him. Well, others cannot be with him if they don’t have access to these tools and these teaching aids. Not the way the world works today. “
Stephen Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute of Design and Art there, said that ASU’s film production programs now have 700 students, but that number is expected to double over three to five years.
“I just hope the students at Sydney Poitiers Film School take on the mantle of responsibility the way our father did when he was on his way to his career,” Poitier Henderson said, and tell their stories regardless of finances, which is easy for us to say. But you have to be true to yourself. It’s a very powerful thing, and I’m looking forward to seeing whoever comes out of it. ”
He appeared with a congratulatory message at the unveiling of Poitier’s friend, Harry Belafonte, who described Poitiers as “a dear person and a wonderful American citizen”.