Unearthed Sidney Poitier interview finds him blasting media for fixating on race questions
Actor Sidney Poitier dead at 94 Hollywood legend was first Black performer to win Oscar for Best Actor
A resurfaced clip of iconic actor Sidney Poitier rebuking reporters focused on his race was widely shared on the late actor’s birthday Monday.
In a video entitled “Black Views on Race,” Poitier and other famous African Americans are featured giving their thoughts on racism in America. The film was distributed by Time Life Films in 1970.
Poitier is seen excoriating reporters for peppering him about questions solely based on his race in one clip from the film.
After answering questions about the race riots of 1967 and his support for non-violent protests, Poitier appeared aggravated by a follow-up question from a reporter— which is unfortunately cut off in the film.
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“I would like to ask you a question,” he began.
“Why is it that you guys are hounds for bad news?” he asked. “Why is it that you know it seems to me that at this moment, this day, you could ask me many questions about many positive and wonderful things that are happening in this country. But we gather here to pay court to sensationalism. We gather here to pay court to negativism.”
“You guys have a job to do,” he acknowledged before giving a blistering response.
“I’m a relatively intelligent man. There are many aspects to my personality that you can explore, I think very constructively, but you sit here and ask me such one-dimensional questions about a very tiny area of our lives,” he said.
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The actor condemned the media for being too fixated on his race and suggested they ask him about things other than his thoughts on the Civil Rights Movement.
“You ask me questions that fall continually in the negro-ness of my life. You ask me questions that pertain to the narrow scope of the summer riots. I am artist, man, American, contemporary, I am an awful lot of things so I wish you would pay me the respect due and not simply ask me about those things,” he added.
The clip was shared on Twitter by user “African Archives,” on Monday, what would’ve been the actor’s 96th birthday.
In another interview from the film, Poitier brushes off questions from a reporter who seemed to suggest his race hindered his nomination for an Academy Award.
“You are implying that there was something wrong by my not being nominated,” Poitier says to the reporter who is off-camera.
“I was rather delighted not having to sit in the auditorium tonight and wind up one of the four losers,” he joked back.
The beloved Hollywood icon earned acclaim for his leading roles in several films in the 1950s and ’60s such as “A Patch of Blue,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “To Sir with Love,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” He was the first African-American to win an Oscar in a leading male role for “Lilies of the Field” in 1963.
Poitier passed away on January 6, 2022.