Having already been given BAFTA’s lifetime achievement Britannia Award in 2006, Sidney Poitier is doubling up on the career honors from the British Academy. On February 14, at the BAFTA Film Awards, the legendary and pioneering actor will receive the org’s highest accolade, the Fellowship. He joins such previous recipients as Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Martin Scorsese, and Helen Mirren.
BAFTA chief Amanda Berry called Poitier “a luminary of film whose outstanding talent in front of the camera, and important 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.”
Poitier has earned six BAFTA nominations as Best Foreign Actor for his work beginning with 1958’s Edge Of The City and also including A Raisin In The Sun, Lilies Of The Field, A Patch Of Blue and In The Heat Of The Night. He won for 1959’s The Defiant Ones. That film brought his first Oscar nomination and he later became the first African American to win a Best Actor nod with Lilies Of The Field.
Poitier began his acting career on Broadway in the 1940s before moving to film in 1950 with No Way Out. Among his other acting credits are Blackboard Jungle, To Sir With Love, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Sneakers, The Jackal and Porgy Aand Bess. He has also directed nine features including the classic Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder comedy, Stir Crazy, as well as Buck And The Preacher, Uptown Saturday Night and Fast Forward.
In 2002, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar and has also been nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning once, and was presented with the Cecil B DeMille Award in 1982.
Poitier played an active role in the American civil rights campaign and served as Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan and UNESCO from 1997 to 2007. In 1974, Queen Elizabeth gave him a knighthood, and in 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.