This past Friday, Halle Berry went on Instagram and paid homage to the late Sidney Poitier one day after his passing. Last year’s People’s Icon Award winner then showered Poitier with praise again via an extensive tribute in the latest issue of Variety.
The 55-year old actress shared how the 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom first helped her feel “understood” and “validated” as a biracial child, namely with his iconic representation of an interracial marriage in the 1967 comedy Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
“Sidney’s impact on me did not end there,” Berry wrote on. “Over the years, I looked to him as a sterling example, as a template of manhood and all that is honorable…. In my mind’s eye, and in my father’s absence, Sidney epitomized what a man should be: unflappable and courageous, eloquent and proud, charming and handsome. He even physically resembled my father.”
Berry has always been uninhibited about the personal impact of Poitier on her self-image. In a joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter more than a decade old, the pair reflected on the importance of the actress’s historic 2002 Oscar win for Monster’s Ball. (Poetically, that was the same night Denzel Washington became only the second Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor and that Poitier was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award as well.)
“I was elated,” Poitier told Berry in the THR piece. “You have to understand what an important moment it was. We are all still looking for fundamental acceptance.”
“As a young Black woman,” Berry responded, “it’s sad to say, I didn’t always have a real positive image of what a Black man was… My father left when I was young, and it was a very abusive situation. To see a man like Sidney, with such grace and dignity, inspired me. I held myself to a higher standard than I would have without him.”
Read more of Berry’s adulation for the esteemed Sidney Poitier by clicking here.