In 1963, Sidney Poitier he managed to be the first African-American actor to win the Oscar for best actor for his performance in Lilies of the valley , but the beginnings were not easy.
Sidney Poitier with the Oscar.
Although he has always considered himself Bahamian, he was born in Miami -because one is not born where he wants, but where he catches his mother- which helped him acquire US nationality. In 1927, when his parents were in Miami, Sidney was born… a seven-month-old boy. His parents decided to stay in Miami so that his premature baby could receive proper care. After three months, and with the little one already recovered, they returned to Cat Island (Bahamas). At the age of 10, in search of a better life, they moved to Nasau, the capital. In January 1943, at the age of 15, Sidney Poitier left his poor farming family in Nassau and returned to the United States – land of opportunity – Looking for a future for him and his family.
Like many other actors, he had to go through Cain's:sleep on the street, work washing dishes and even lied to enlist in the Army... At 17, and seeing that he had no future there, he decided to return to the Bahamas, but he didn't have the enough money to pay the ticket. So, without any complexes, he decided to send a letter to President Roosevelt:
Dear President Roosevelt,
My name is Sidney Poitier and I am here in the United States in New York City. I am from the Bahamas. I would like to go back to the Bahamas, but I don't have enough money. I'd like to ask you for a loan of $100. I'll pay it back to you when I get to the Bahamas. I miss my mother and father, I miss my brothers and sisters, and I miss my home in the Caribbean. It seems to me that I have not managed to get used to the United States, especially the cold weather, and that is why I ask you as an American citizen for a loan of $100 to return home. I will return it to him and I will be eternally grateful.
While he waited for an answer, and the money to return home, he joined the American Negro Theater (ANT) – a Harlem theater group that gave budding actors a break – where he soon began to break through. Logically, the President never answered… a great actor would have been lost.
Sources and image:This Life – Sidney Poitier, The Angeles Time