Academy award-winning actress Halle Berry penned a letter for Variety on Wednesday honoring the late actor Sidney Poitier. In the piece, she shared that his work not only touched the entertainment world for decades but that it also heavily impacted her own life.
In the letter, Berry, 55, highlighted examples of her own life that led her to pursue her career in acting. Watching her parents split, Berry wrote that needed an example that reminded her of her father. Poitier provided a sense of connection to her at just the tender age of 4.
"Over the years, I looked to him as a sterling example, as a template of manhood and all that is honorable," wrote Berry.
The "Monster's Ball" actress continued to relate to a pivotal moment that changed her while working on "Bruised" as a director, noting how inspired she was by Poitier. She wrote, "He was brave. He took chances. He as a fighter."
In the 1967 film "In the Heat of the Night" Poitier played a Philadelphia police detective. The movie featured a key scene where a plantation owner slaps him and Poitier's character slaps him back. Berry stated she felt this was a defining moment of cinema for Black people everywhere.
Her letter also touched on the time she had a chance to meet Poitier during her work on the 1999 HBO film "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." Berry recalled feeling lost for words but said his warm approach helped her gather her composure.
This wasn't their last encounter.
A few years later, Berry said Poitier was seated next to her at a Gala, and in 2002, 40 years after Poitier accepted the Best Actor Oscar as the first Black man to do so, Berry stood in the same spot and accepted her own award. The trophy cemented Berry in the history books as the first Black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, following in Poitier's footsteps.
Poitier died earlier this month in Los Angeles. He was 94.