Photo by: Kevin Reece/Contributor

The news that the legendary actor Sidney Poitier, a trailblazer for Hollywood diversity and a laureate of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has passed away has surprised the world by surprise.

Denzel Washington became the second Black American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in Training Day in 2001, 38 years after Poitier’s groundbreaking win. Poitier received an honorary Oscar for his contributions to the film industry the same night.

Photo by: LUCY NICHOLSON/ Stringer

“Forty years, I’ve been chasing Sidney – what do they do? They give [an award] to him the same night. I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney,” Washington said during his acceptance speech as the two saluted each other with their respective trophies.

He continued.

“I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I’d rather do, sir.”

Poitier died Thursday in the Bahamas, according to Eugene Torchon-Newry, the acting director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who confirmed the news to the Associated Press.

In a cover story interview with Variety, Washington, who grew up idolizing James Earl Jones and Harry Belafonte, discusses the late actor’s contributions to the industry. Poitier, who shattered barriers by winning an acting Oscar for Lilies of the Field, cleared the way for Washington and others to enjoy box office success.

Washington stated that he wishes he could have co-starred in a film with Poitier, who had retired from acting at 94.

“God bless him,” Washington said. “But yeah, I missed that opportunity.”

Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Poitier was one of the last great performers from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, having worked as an actor, directed films, and even acted in television programs throughout a 50-plus-year career.

After Kirk Douglas’ death, the Bahamas-born ambassador became the oldest living and earliest surviving male Academy Award recipient.

Would you have wanted to see these two legends work together? Our condolences go out to Sir Sidney Poitier’s loved ones at this time.

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