Diversity pioneer Sidney Poitier lends a name to ASU Film School

2:46 PM PDT 1/25/2021


Eitan Felissing

Arizona State University launched Sidney Poitier New American Film School as an “egalitarian” institution designed to include, not exclude, students of color and first-generation families.

Legendary actor Sydney Poitier has restored his name and reputation to the new American film school of Sydney Poitier at Arizona State University amid plans to set up campuses in three cities across Arizona and California.

Through the presence of Oscar-winning Poitiers – who in 1964 became the first black Oscar winner for Best Actor for Arizona Film. Field lilies Lent his name to its film school, and ASU is looking to prove that the institution includes and does not exclude students of color and first-generation immigrants.

“We decided to grow and diversify the organization by not taking on more selectivity, because selectivity creeps into social disruption in a negative way,” says Michael Crowe, president of Arizona State University. THR, Adding that Poitier symbolizes ASU’s pursuit of inclusion and diversity by coming to Hollywood and cinematic stardom as an immigrant, via New York City and the Bahamas.

“[Poitier] He was born in Miami, but was actually raised in the Bahamas. Then he comes to this country, finds his way, and finds his art, all through work, effort and creativity, and that’s what we seek, “Crowe says.

Michael Burns, an Arizona State University graduate and vice president of Lionsgate, recalls when the university first bought the historic Herald Examiner Building in Los Angeles as part of a planned film school expansion and was told by Crow that they had not named the new facility yet. I said, ‘What about Sidney Poitier? “It was the first name that popped into my head,” Burns recounts, adding that years ago he met the screen legend and his wife at a dinner party in Hollywood.

“[Poitier] He is one of the most elegant men I have ever met, and the smartest of the bad guys, ”Burns says. After Lionsgate exec reached out to the Poitiers family, they agreed to loan his name to the new Sydney Poitiers American Film School symbolizing ASU’s mission of diversity and innovation for the organization.

In the fall of 2022, ASU Film School will move to a new facility in downtown Mesa, Arizona, while also operating out of the new Los Angeles facility. Sidney Poitier New American Film School students will also gain hands-on experience in Hollywood technology through partnerships, including with John Hughes and Dreamscape Immersive, the virtual reality company.

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