Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, Halle Berry, and More Stars Pay Tribute to the Legendary Sidney Poitier
Celebrities are mourning Sir Sidney Poitier following the news of his death. The beloved Hollywood actor, who was the first Black man to win a best actor Oscar, died the evening of Jan. 6 at age 94, according to Clint Watson, press secretary for the prime minister of the Bahamas. Sidney is regarded as a trailblazer in cinema, whose excellence and grace were treasured by those who witnessed his masterful artistry.
Many stars have paid tribute to Sidney over the years, specifically crediting him for paving the way for Black actors to thrive in the entertainment industry. Denzel Washington, who has always admired Sidney's outstanding achievements, presented the late actor with an honorary award at the 2002 Oscars, saying, "Before Sidney, African-American actors had to take supporting roles in major studio films that were easy to cut out in certain parts of the country. But you couldn't cut Sidney Poitier out of a Sidney Poitier picture. He was the reason a movie got made, the first solo, above-the-title African-American movie star."
Jeffrey Wright was among the bunch of celebrities who gave Sidney his proper flowers on Friday, calling him a "beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man." Viola Davis also noted the "dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence, and sheer electricity" Sidney brought to the big screen. Following Sidney's death, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper told ABC News he was "conflicted with great sadness and a sense of celebration when I learned of the passing of Sir Sidney Poitier."
Ahead, read how other celebrities are remembering the late star.
"It was a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend," Denzel said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. "He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him and his family."
"For me, the greatest of the 'Great Trees' has fallen: Sidney Poitier," she wrote in a note posted on Twitter. "My honor to have loved him as a mentor. Friend. Brother. Confidant. Wisdom teacher. The utmost, highest regard and praise for his most magnificent, gracious, eloquent life. I treasured him. I adored him. He had an enourmous soul I will forever cherish. Blessings to Joanna and his beautiful daughters."
"Around this time last year Cicely Tyson was releasing her book and promoting it. I had no idea she would pass away shortly thereafter. Now, to wake up this morning to a call that Sidney Poitier has passed away . . . all I can tell you is that my heart broke in another place," Tyler captioned an Instagram post, alongside a series of photos with Sidney. "The grace and class that this man has shown throughout his entire life, the example he set for me, not only as a Black man but as a human being will never be forgotten. There is no man in this business who has been more of a North Star for me than Sidney Poitier. I'll never forget inviting him and Cicely to fly to South Africa with me. Selfishly, I wanted to hold them both captive for the hours long trip as I literally sat at their feet and listened to their wisdom and experiences. It was life changing. All I can say is thank you for your life, thank you for your example, and thank you for your incredible gift. But most of all, thank you for being willing to share YOU to make us all better."
"You opened the door for us all," Debbie tweeted with a photo of her and Sidney. "We will forever speak your name, #SidneyPoitier!"
"Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together," the former president wrote in a tweet. "He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans."
"We were all so lucky to share a culture with Sidney Poitier, and benefit from his hand in shaping it," the former secretary of state and first lady tweeted, alongside a photo of herself shaking hands with Sidney at a reception at the White House in 1995.
"This is a big one. No words can describe how your work radically shifted my life," Viola captioned an Instagram post featuring a photo of her posed alongside Sidney. "The dignity, normalcy, strength, excellence and sheer electricity you brought to your roles showed us that we, as Black folks, mattered!!! It was an honor for my husband and I to share lunch with you at Spagos. You told us,'If your dreams do not scare you, they're not big enough'! I put this quote on my daughter's wall. Rest well Mr. Poitier. Thank you! Thank you for leaving a legacy. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."
"If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high.. ," Whoopi wrote in a tweet. "To Sir… with Love. Sir Sidney Poitier R.I.P. He showed us how to reach for the stars."
"I'm on the porch of our little home on Cat Island in the Bahamas. Evening turns the sky a bright burnt orange. My mother and father fan the smoke from green palm leaves. My sister Teddy takes me in her arms to rock me to sleep," the award-winning filmmaker tweeted with a black-and-white image of Sidney. "Rest in triumph, Mr. Poitier. Thank you forever."
"Beyond his unparalleled talent and devotion to change the world, to me he was also a celestial, pure soul who took the time to care, talk, help and heal others so selflessly," the singer tweeted. "I'm blessed with the memories of our conversations forever. Rest in Power and Peace Sir Sydney Poitier 💜."
"An icon, legend, visionary, and true pioneer," the Oscar nominee captioned an Instagram post featuring a photo of him and Sidney sharing a laugh. "Thank you Sidney Poitier for breaking down barriers, creating the path and making it possible for there to be a Will Smith! Your legacy is eternal. Rest In Power."
Michael B. Jordan
"This is a devastating hit to our community," the A Journal For Jordan actor captioned an Instagram post, alongside a couple of photos of Sidney. "A true legend and barrier breaker. Your legacy will live on through all of us and "a very special thank you" for all you have done! There is no us without him 🙏🏾"
"Sidney Poitier. What a landmark actor," Jeffrey remarked in a tweet with a photo of the late actor. "One of a kind. What a beautiful, gracious, warm, genuinely regal man. RIP, Sir. With love."
"A tiny bit of myself is lost when my friends are gone," Sidney Poitier wrote in his book LIFE BEYOND MEASURE. My dear Sidney, an enormous part of my soul weeps at your passing," Halle wrote in a thread on Twitter. "In your ninety-four years on this planet, you left an indelible mark with your extraordinary talent, paving the way for Black people to be seen and heard in the fullness of who we are. You were an iconic trailblazer; yours was a life well lived. I grew up idolizing you and will always remember the day when I first met you. It is the only time in my life when I've been rendered speechless! There I sat, with my words glued together, and you were as gracious and charming then as you would be during our decades of friendship to follow. Rest in peace, beloved Sidney. You are and always will be the true measure of a man."
Tracee Ellis Ross
"Determination. Dignity. Elegance. Grace. Historic. Just some of the many words used to describe the legendary Sidney Poitier," the Black-ish actor captioned an Instagram post showcasing a photo of her and Sidney. "He was a giant among us and a beacon of possibility for us. Rest well, Mr. Poitier. May your legacy live on for generations and generations. Sending so much love to his family and loved ones."
Taraji P. Henson
"Rest easy King 👑 #sidneypoitier," Taraji wrote in an Instagram post. "Thank you for kicking down the doors. Thank you will never be enough for your blood sweat tears and determination. REST IN HEAVENLY PEACE!!! We will tell the generations to come about your legacy!!!"
"Legendary GREATNESS! Thank you for all the doors you opened, for all the ceilings you broke through!" the singer tweeted. "Thank for showing us what GREATNESS looks like! You are never to be forgotten. 🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽"
"🥀 POITIER SET THE STANDARD. He represents what it means to be an excellent performer, a committed advocate, a community builder, and a once in a lifetime artist," the young actor captioned an Instagram post, alongside a carousel of photos featuring Sidney. "Grateful to have had to opportunity to share space and even more grateful to live in the impact of your legacy 🤎 #RIP"
"GOD bless the soul of one of the greatest actors ever and an Inspiration for so many of us. He breathed dignity and integrity and illuminated excellence," the rapper shared on Instagram. "Thanks for all you have given us, Sidney Poitier, GOD bless your soul and may the creator be with your family and loved ones."
"Sir Sidney, your brilliant light will never dim," Lenny wrote in an Instagram caption, alongside a photo of him, Sidney, and Denzel Washington. "The doors you opened and paths you created will continue to make way for those with a dream. You showed the world that with vision and grace, all is possible. Your excellence will always be the benchmark. Rest in divine peace, Bahamian King. My love and condolences go out to your beautiful family."
"We lost an elegant King today. And heaven just became a lot more classy," the actor captioned an Instagram post featuring a black-and-white photo of Sidney posing with his Oscar. "Thank you Sidney Poitier, for not only opening the door, but for walking in this world with endless grace and excellence, so that today, still, we follow behind you, reaching toward the example that you set. Rest In Peace and in Power. We love you."
Anika Noni Rose
"RIP Sidney Poitier," the Tony Award winner tweeted. "Thank you for being so kind, for every door you broke down and every slap you gave in return. #RIPSidneyPoitier #TheyCallHimMISTERTibbs 🙏🏽🕊"
"Sidney was my inspiration, my guiding light, my friend. Sending love to Joanna and his family," the legendary actor tweeted, along with a photo with Sidney.
"I will never forget the occasion where I met Mr. Poitier," Octavia began in an Instagram post. "I had just won an award and he and Helen Mirren were walking through the kitchen to the stage to present. When I have an overload of adrenaline it has an adverse affect. I can't bend my knees. So, there I am with my heels and an award in my hands, shell shocked and sweaty, GLARING at the two of them. I was searching for the one word to say but couldn't remember any. I must've been a pitiful sight because he stopped with the biggest smile and congratulated me. I finally blurted out I love you… both. He told me he expected great things from me. There's something about hearing those words from a pioneer that changes you! Thank you, Mr. Poitier!! I've been riding high ever since!!"
"He once caught me following him. He said "little girl what do you want" I muttered "can I have your autograph," Dionne quote-tweeted a post breaking Sidney's death. "From that day he always called me little girl and asked if I wanted his autograph. It was something we laughed about. He was my hero & great friend. May he RIP."
"Dearest Sidney, you were a gentle giant in life, in politics, and in the movies," fellow icon Barbra Streisand wrote on Instagram, sharing of a photo of them hugging at an event. "You will remain in our hearts and on our screens forever. May you rest in peace. With fond memories, Barbra"
"What a thrill it was to meet the legendary actor Sidney Poitier," she tweeted with a photo of her and Sidney, right next to a picture of him holding his Oscar. "He made us all feel proud and was an inspiration to us in an industry that at times could not be welcoming.. thank you Mr. Poitier rest well."
"Mr Poitier thank you for your Legacy!!" Garcelle wrote in an Instagram post with a selfie of her and Sidney. "You showed us what it means to be great! Rest in Power."
"Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win an Oscar, has died at the age of 94," George wrote in a tweet. "The star of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and Lilies of the Field, for which he won Best Actor, was a trailblazer who will be mourned by so many for whom he opened the very doors of Hollywood."
"'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' — Isaac Newton," the comedian tweeted. "Sidney was a titan who stood tall and made glorious room for all who followed. Rest in eternal unflagging power, Sidney Poitier."
"So long to the groundbreaking titan, Sidney Poitier," the Lord of the Rings actor tweeted.