Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV are presenting a documentary on late actor Sideny Poitier, who created history by becoming the first Black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While it will be an Apple Original film, the American talk show host, actor, and author will executive produce the project under her banners Harpo Productions and Network Entertainment. The untitled film will be directed by Reginald Hudling, who helmed the 2019 documentary The Black Godfather, and Chadwick Boseman-starrer 2017 biographical drama Marshall.
The Bahamian-American actor died on Friday night, at the age of 94.
The documentary has been in production for a year now, with the participation of the Poitier family, according to the THR report.
According to The New York Times, the actor’s death was announced on Friday by the ministry of foreign affairs of the Bahamas, Fred Mitchell. However, the cause of death was not mentioned.
Poitier was born on February 20, 1927, to Bahamian farmer parents who would travel to Miami, US, to sell tomatoes. It is there, that he secured a US citizenship.
Known for his ground-breaking roles, which represented his race, he earned his first Oscar nomination in 1958 for his work in The Defiant Ones, which itself was considered a huge feat for a Black man, just to be considered for an award in the lead role, at the time. Keeping up his contributions to the Black community, Poitier won the Academy Award for his film, Lilies Of the Field in 1963. He became the first Black person to win the award, under the category of ‘best actor’. In the film, he played the role of a handyman, who helps a group of East German nuns, build a chapel in the Arizona desert.
Even when racism was at its peak in the US, Poitier appeared in three American films with strong Black characters, namely, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir, With Love.
He was conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honour, by former US President Barack Obama in 2009.
Several public figures condoled his death.
Winfrey wrote on Twitter, “For me, the greatest of the “Great Trees” has fallen: Sidney Poitier. 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 enormous soul I will forever cherish.”