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50 Sidney Poitier Quotes Showcasing His Hollywood Legacy

Published on May 5, 2020 7:42 AM EST
50 Sidney Poitier Quotes Showcasing His Hollywood Legacy

From The Defiant Ones to In the Heat of the Night, Sidney Poitier is a legendary Oscar-winning African-American actor whose career in entertainment spans over five decades. Below are insightful, inspirational Sidney Poitier quotes for you to enjoy. 

What’s your favorite Sidney Poitier movie? 

Sidney Poitier began his acting career as a part of the North American Negro Theater in the 1940s. While achieving mild Broadway success, Poitier was offered a role in 1950’s No Way Out, his first leading theatrical role. 

50 Sidney Poitier Quotes Showcasing His Hollywood Legacy

His leading role in 1963’s Lillies in the Field brought Sidney Poitier an Oscar win. This made him the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. Poitier has received many other awards celebrating his long-running career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. 

Want to learn more about Sidney Poitier’s amazing life and career? Check them out below. 

Don’t forget to also read these Morgan Freeman quotes that inspire, move, and motivate.

Sidney Poitier quotes about acting

1. “In my case, the body of work stands for itself…I think my work has been representative of me as a man.” – Sidney Poitier

2. “I always wanted to be someone better the next day than I was the day before.” – Sidney Poitier 

3. “I wanted to explore the values that are at work, underpinning my life.” – Sidney Poitier

4. “I always had the ability to say no. That’s how I called my own shots.” – Sidney Poitier

5. “I was not the kind of a principal player that was so in demand that eight or 10 or 12 scripts came per month.” – Sidney Poitier

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6. “I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.” – Sidney Poitier

7. “A good deed here, a good deed there, a good thought here, a good comment there, all added up to my career in one way or another.” – Sidney Poitier

8. “If you apply reason and logic to this career of mine, you’re not going to get very far. You simply won’t.” – Sidney Poitier

9. “When I set out to become an actor, I had set myself a standard.” – Sidney Poitier

10. “I had to satisfy the action fans, the romantic fans, the intellectual fans. It was a terrific burden.” – Sidney Poitier

11. “I did not go into the film business to be symbolized as someone else’s vision of me.” – Sidney Poitier

12. “If the screen does not make room for me in the structure of their screenplay, I’ll step out. I’ll step back. I’d step back. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.” – Sidney Poitier

13. “Acting isn’t a game of “pretend.” It’s an exercise in being real.” – Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier quotes about race

14. “I was the only Black person on the set. It was unusual for me to be in a circumstance in which every move I made was tantamount to a representation of 18 million people.” – Sidney Poitier

15. “I never had an occasion to question color, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was… a human being.” – Sidney Poitier

16. “The impact of the black audience is expressing itself. They look to films to be more expressive of their needs, their lives. Hollywood has gotten that message – finally.” – Sidney Poitier

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17. “I didn’t run into racism until we moved to Nassau when I was ten and a half, but it was vastly different from the kind of horrendous oppression that black people in Miami were under when I moved there at 15. I found Florida an antihuman place.” – Sidney Poitier

18. “There is no racial or ethnic domination of hopelessness. It’s everywhere.” – Sidney Poitier

19. “I knew what it was to be uncomfortable in a movie theater watching unfolding on the screen images of myself – not me, but black people – that were uncomfortable.” – Sidney Poitier 

20. “I couldn’t adjust to the racism in Florida. It was so blatant… I had never been so described as Florida described me.” – Sidney Poitier

21. “I was fortunate enough to have been raised to a certain point before I got into the race thing. I had other views of what a human is, so I was never able to see racism as the big question. Racism was horrendous, but there were other aspects to life.” – Sidney Poitier

Also check out these insightful Ella Baker quotes on civil rights, activism, and more.

Powerful Sidney Poitier quotes 

22. “History passes the final judgment.” – Sidney Poitier

23. “I feel, internally, that I am an ordinary person who has had an extraordinary life.” – Sidney Poitier

24. “So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.” – Sidney Poitier

25. “I’ll always be chasing you… Glory.” – Sidney Poitier

26. “I am the me I choose to be.” – Sidney Poitier

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27. “In America, it is difficult to be your own man.” – Sidney Poitier

28. “I have always been a learner because I knew nothing.” – Sidney Poitier

29. “Far as I can tell, I still have most of my hair, my gut is not hanging over my belt, and I still have all of my teeth.” – Sidney Poitier

30. “Generally, I tend to despise human behavior rather than human creatures.” – Sidney Poitier

31. “I know how easy it is for one to stay well within moral, ethical, and legal bounds through the skillful use of words – and to thereby spin, sidestep, circumvent, or bend a truth completely out of shape. To that extent, we are all liars on numerous occasions.” – Sidney Poitier

32. “I wouldn’t change a single thing, because one change alters every moment that follows it.” – Sidney Poitier

33. “I cannot be understood in three minutes.” – Sidney Poitier

34. “I’m not a library.” – Sidney Poitier

35. “I learned to hear silence. That’s the kind of life I lived: simple. I learned to see things in people around me, in my mom, dad, brothers and sisters.” – Sidney Poitier

36. “If I’m remembered for having done a few good things, and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that’s plenty.” – Sidney Poitier

37. “I want my great-granddaughter to have a fairly good understanding of the world in which I lived for 81 years and also the world before I came into it – all the way back a hundred thousand years, to the beginning of our species.” – Sidney Poitier

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Sidney Poitier quotes about upbringing

38. “As a man, I’ve been representative of the values I hold dear. And the values I hold dear are carryovers from the lives of my parents.” – Sidney Poitier

39. “I come from a great family. I’ve seen family life and I know how wonderful, how nurturing, and how wonderful it can be.” – Sidney Poitier

40. “My father was a poor man, very poor in a British colonial possession where class and race were very important.” – Sidney Poitier

41. “I am not a hugely religious person, but I believe that there is a oneness with everything. And because there is this oneness, it is possible that my mother is the principal reason for my life.” – Sidney Poitier

42. “I was a gift to my mother. She was a remarkable person. God or nature, or whatever those forces are, smiled on her, then passed me the best of her.” – Sidney Poitier

43. “But my dad also was a remarkable man, a good person, a principled individual, a man of integrity.” – Sidney Poitier

44. “My mother was the most amazing person. She taught me to be kind to other women. She believed in family. She was with my father from the first day they met. All that I am, she taught me.” – Sidney Poitier

45. “My father was a tomato farmer. There is the phrase that says he or she worked their fingers to the bone, well, that’s my dad. And he was a very good man.” – Sidney Poitier

46. “I was born two months early, and everyone had given up on me. But my mother insisted on my life.” – Sidney Poitier

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47. “My father was the quintessential husband and dad.” – Sidney Poitier

48. “My father was very big on marriage.” – Sidney Poitier

49. “I lived in a country where I couldn’t live where I wanted to live. I lived in a country where I couldn’t go where I wanted to eat. I lived in a country where I couldn’t get a job, except for those put aside for people of my colour or caste.” – Sidney Poitier

50. “My father was a certain kind of man – I saw how he treated my mother and his family and how he treated strangers. And I vowed I would never make a film that would not reflect properly on my father’s name.” – Sidney Poitier

What does family mean to you? 

As the youngest child of seven, Sidney Poitier grew up with a large, loving family. His mother and father’s positive influence made an infinitely important impact on his character and work ethic. It may be one of the main reasons why he maintained so focused and diligent throughout his acting career. 

Everyone’s family is different. One person’s immediate family may be their grandparents, while another may view their close friend group as their family. No matter what your family looks like, they have made a large impact on the person that we have become. Take time, whether it’s daily or weekly, to reach out to your family and remain in touch. Those important connections are ones that benefit us for a lifetime. 

Which of these Sidney Poitier quotes and sayings is your favorite? Let us know below!

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