55 Sidney Poitier Quotes from the Hollywood Icon

Sidney Poitier (1927-2022) was a pioneering Bahamian American actor, director and producer, who shattered racial barriers in Hollywood.

He became the first African American to win the Best Actor Academy Award for “Lilies of the Field” in 1963 and was noted for refusing roles that perpetuated racial stereotypes.

Early Life: Born in Miami during his parents’ U.S. visit, Poitier grew up in The Bahamas and moved to the U.S. as a teenager.

He joined the U.S. Army, later studying acting at the American Negro Theatre in New York.


Film Career: Poitier’s roles, starting with “No Way Out” (1950), consistently challenged racial prejudices. Notable films include “The Blackboard Jungle” (1955), “The Defiant Ones” (1958), “To Sir, with Love” (1967) and “In the Heat of the Night” (1967).

Directorial Ventures: Poitier’s directorial debut was “Buck and the Preacher” (1972). His biggest hit as a director was “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974).

Later Years: After a break, he returned to acting with films like “Shoot to Kill” (1988) and focused on TV movies, playing iconic roles such as Nelson Mandela.

Accolades & Contributions: Beyond his cinematic influence, Poitier was an esteemed figure, receiving an honorary Academy Award in 2001 and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He also served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan (1997-2007) and authored several books, including an autobiography and a novel.

Here is a great collection of quotes by Sidney Poitier.

Sidney Poitier Quotes

1. “So it’s been kind of a long road, but it was a good  altogether.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


2. “I am the me I choose to be.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


3. “When you walk with someone, something unspoken happens. Either you match their pace or they match yours.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


4. I was born with an urge to understand the mysteries of life. ~ Sidney Poitier.


5. I did not go into the film business to be symbolized as someone else’s vision of me. ~ Sidney Poitier.


6. I wanted to explore the values that are at work, underpinning my life. ~ Sidney Poitier.


7. I never had an occasion to question color, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was… a human being. ~ Sidney Poitier


8. There is no racial or ethnic domination of hopelessness. It’s everywhere. ~ Sidney Poitier.


9. “True ‘joy’ is the difference between just amusing ourselves to death and creating ‘meaningful’ pleasure.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

10. “A person doesn’t have to change who he is to become better.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


11. “I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

12. “You don’t have to become something you’re not to be better than you were.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


13. “We’re all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

14. “So I had to be careful. I recognized the responsibility that, whether I liked it or not, I had to accept whatever the obligation was. That was to behave in a manner, to carry myself in such a professional way, as if there ever is a reflection, it’s a positive one.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

Popular Sidney Poitier Quotes

15. “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).


16. “Acting isn’t a game of “pretend.” It’s an exercise in being real.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

17. “But I always had the ability to say no. That’s how I called my own shots.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


18. “I defend myself by improving myself.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

19. “History passes the final judgment.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

20. “I do know that I’m responsible not for what happens, but for what I make of it.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


21. “The older we get the less afraid we are.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

22. “So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

23. “So I’m OK with myself, with history, my work, who I am and who I was.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


24. “When I set out to become an actor, I had set myself a standard.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

25. “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 representation of 18 million people.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

26. “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).

Top Sidney Poitier Quotes


27. “I set my star so high that I would constantly be in motion toward it.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

28. “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).

29. “Forgiveness works two ways, in most instances. People have to forgive themselves too. The powerful have to forgive themselves for their behavior. That should be a sacred process.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

30. “As I entered this world, I would leave behind the nurturing of my family and my home, but in another sense I would take their protection with me. The lessons I had learned, the feelings of groundedness and belonging that have been woven into my character there, would be my companions on the journey.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


31. “In America, it is difficult to be your own man.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

32. “Generally, I tend to despise human behavior rather than human creatures.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

33. “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).

34. “If the image one holds of one’s self contains elements that don’t square with reality, one is best advised to let go of them, however difficult that may be.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


35. “I always wanted to be someone better the next day than I was the day before.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

36. “If you apologize because you are afraid, then you are a child not a man.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

37. “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).

Famous Sidney Poitier Quotes

38. “Of all my father’s teachings, the most enduring was the one about the true measure of a man. That true measure was how well he provided for his children, and it stuck with me as if it were etched in my brain.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


39. “My autobiography was simply the story of my life.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

40. “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).

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

42. “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).


43. “I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

44. “Every new fashion is a form of rebellion.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

45. “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).

Short Sidney Poitier Quotes

46. “I’d seen my father. He was a poor man, and I watched him do astonishing things.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


47. “Racism is very painful. That’s life. It never ends.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

48. “We all have a capacity for love, for kindness, for passion. We also have a capacity for the opposite, but love is infinitely more effective in the world than hate, although they exist as equal opposites.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


49. “I wouldn’t change a single thing, because one change alters every moment that follows it.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

50. “But my dad also was a remarkable man, a good person, a principled individual, a man of integrity.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

51. “The journey has been incredible from its beginning.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

52. “To simply wake up every morning a better person than when I went to bed.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).


53. “I have always been a learner because I knew nothing.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

54. “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).

55. “Marriage is no way of life for the weak, the selfish, or the insecure.” ~ (Sidney Poitier).

So these were the 55 quotes by Sidney Poitier.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other popular blog posts on the topics of Tony Baker quotes and Bill Murray quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar