Actor and director Sidney Poitier will receive the topmost honors bestowed upon by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to one person, its fellowship.
With almost 70 years in film and television, Poitier earned acclaim at the Oscars, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, NAACP Awards, and British Academy Film Awards among others. His acting abilities dominated, claiming star roles never portrayed by African Americans before, ultimately becoming the first of his race to take home the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964.
The British Academy was one of the first to recognize his talent, honoring him with a 1959 Film Award for Best Foreign Actor for his role in The Defiant Ones. He received five other nominations between 1958 to 1968. In 2006, the academy celebrated his career with the Britannia Award for Lifetime Contribution to International Film.
Now at 88 years old, he will join the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Judi Dench, and more as a BAFTA fellow. According to the academy, the fellowship acknowledges, “an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.”
Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, expressed her admiration for Poitier in a statement, saying, “Sidney is a luminary of film whose outstanding talent in front of the camera, and significant work in other fields, has made him one of the most important figures of his generation. His determination to pursue his dreams is an inspirational story for young people starting out in the industry today.”
The BAFTA will award Poitier at the EE British Academy Film Awards (Feb. 14) at London’s Royal Opera House.