The Harder They Fall actor wrote a heartwarming tribute to the beloved movie idol.
By Diedre Johnson
On Thursday, Jan. 6, film legend Sir Sidney Poitier passed away at 94, leaving behind generations of fans he’s inspired over his historic, decades-long career. Among them is The Harder They Fall star Jonathan Majors, who, on Wednesday, poured out his heart in honor of the late Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Oscar.
In the letter first printed in the Hollywood Reporter, Majors wrote of how he put an 8-by-10-inch black-and-white photo of the actor on the wall of his college dorm for inspiration. Majors also shared how he practically memorized Poitier’s autobiography, The Measure of a Man. He described having a “speech impediment” and how he often cried, wondering if he’d ever be able to make acting a career like his idol.
“What you have done for me as a Black actor, and for other marginalized artists, is monumental. Your talent, bravery, elegance and toughness have paved the way for many of my heroes and my own generation,” Majors wrote.
The letter recounted how Majors was not used to seeing someone like Poitier — “a tall, charming, well-dressed, caring and strong Black man” — on television when he was a child. Majors quoted lines from some of Poitier’s most well-known roles, including Mr. Thackeray, the London teacher who tries to temper an unruly class of students in 1967’s To Sir, with Love; John Prentice, the intellectual Black doctor who verbally spars with his fiancée’s white parents (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; and Walter Lee Younger, the struggling everyman in the screen version of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
“I and we thank you. How you managed to withstand all the isolation, all the naysayers, all the haters, we will never know,” Majors wrote. “But please, trust and believe the mission continues, your legacy lives on in us, and the tectonic industry shift and elevation you single-handedly achieved is being felt to this day, your blueprint left in good hands.”