Arizona State University has announced that their 15-year-old film program is paying homage to a legendary member of the movie industry: Groundbreaking actor and all-around Hollywood icon Sidney Poitier.
According to a press release, The Sidney Poitier New American Film School (now the official name of the program) is committed to championing “inclusivity” and “diversity” across their three campuses. In effect, the naming was done not only to honor the legacy of the 93-year-old actor—the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor (for the Arizona-set Lilies of the Field)—but also to show to underrepresented, aspiring filmmakers that The Sidney Poitier New American Film School is an environment in which their passions for storytelling will be celebrated and centered.
“Sidney Poitier is a national hero and international icon whose talents and character have defined ethical and inclusive filmmaking. His legacy will serve as a guide and inspiration for our school and the thousands of film students we educate,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU. “The Sidney Poitier New American Film School will be a welcoming space for individuals from across the country and world to hone their craft, and bring their unique and diverse voices to the entertainment industries and audiences everywhere.”
Fellow actor John Lithgow commented that “The Sidney Poitier New American Film School is a great and appropriate title,” while Beverly Poitier-Henderson, daughter of Sidney Poitier, shared some remarks on the importance of filmmaking as a cultural institution. “Our society has been moved forward by film and television…it’s a responsibility,” Poitier-Henderson said. “You are shaping the world and changing the world with your work as a filmmaker.”
In Fall 2022, ASU’s newly named film program will move to a new location in downtown Mesa.