Art & Culture News

ASU Names Its New Film School After Legendary Actor And Filmmaker Sidney Poitier

By Arianna Gary

The film program will now be called The Sidney Poitier New American Film School.

Arizona State University has renamed its film school after famous actor and director Sidney Poitier. Poitier, now 93, was a major trailblazer in the film industry and boasts a long list of accolades accumulated throughout his career. In 1964, he became the first Black actor to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards, for his performance in Lilies of the Field (1963).

Poitier had an exceptional career spanning decades, having starred in over forty films, directed nine and written four of his own. Some of his most famous films include The Defiant Ones, A Raisin in the Sun, A Patch of Blue, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, among others. ASU calls the renaming of its film school “a full-circle moment,” as Arizona has a special significance in Poitier’s career, having been where his award-winning performance in Lilies of the Field was both set and filmed.

“This is a legacy moment for our New American Film School, carrying the name of one of the most honored figures in American film history,” said Dean Steven Tepper of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, during the virtual naming ceremony. “Sidney Poitier truly represents a lifetime of ethical, collaborative and powerful, powerful filmmaking.”


The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, which has grown from a small program that started eight years ago, now has more than 700 students and continues to grow. The film school is currently based in Tempe, with an additional center opening in Los Angeles later this year. However, ASU has major plans to build a new 118,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in downtown Mesa, which will become the new main campus when it opens in 2022.

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[Featured image: Wikimedia Commons/Unknown author,Public domain]