While watching an episode on Oprah’s OWN, she had a wonderful interview with Mr. Sidney Poitier. For those of you that are not too familiar with him, he is an Actor, Film Director, Author and he was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. (Movies: “Lilies of the Field”, “Guess who’s coming to dinner” and one of my favs “Let’s do it again” with Bill Cosby).
During his interview he went on to say how he was innocent to racism because where he was from it was of the unknown. He moved to NYC, unable to read or write, he took on pretty much the only job he would qualify which was a dishwasher position. While working at this restaurant he met a Jewish waiter that felt pity on his lack of ability to read and dedicated his evenings to teaching him how to read the newspaper. Once Mr. Poitier could recognize words he stumbled upon an ad in the paper for Actor; not even knowing what it was he decided to go try out for it because according to him he figured it had to pay more than a dishwasher lol. He got to this big audition, stood before the judges and said proudly, “I’m here for the actor job”. So they gave him a script to read to prove his ability. He described that moment as the most frustrating moment of his life, not frustrating because of the aggression from the judges, but frustration because he was pretty much on a 1st grade reading level, so he failed at reading the script. Once the man realized he couldn’t read, he yelled out, “Why this man is no actor! He is nothing more than a lame dishwasher!!” Mr. Poitier had never told this man he was a dishwasher, no one there knew he was a dishwasher, but for this man to point out what he was just showed how he viewed him. He wasn’t even mad about not getting the job because of course he didn’t know what an actor was anyway; but the fact that the man defined him because of what he displayed, that was what stuck with him the most. After that experience he made it his mission to do everything in his power to be the best that he felt he could be, he refused to allow someone to define him….he chose to define himself! As you can see, he became very successful at his accomplishment because he did it with passion, with determination and without fear! He is also the author of a very inspiring book called, “Life Beyond Measures” in which offers inspirational advice and personal stories in the form of extended letters to his great-granddaughter. Writing for all who admire his example and who search for wisdom only a man of great experience can offer.
Saying all that to say don’t allow anyone to define you, you have to define yourself! This world is filled with so many different things, why waste your life trying to mimic someone else’s? This story stood out to me so much and it stuck with me because no one is born with intelligence, with skills, with knowledge. Yes it is true that God gives us all a gift in which makes us unique, but there is no limit to what you install in yourself. Don’t allow your past to define you or what you been through; don’t stop living because you go through situations; use those situations as your motivation to drive harder! He could have let that man define him as a dishwasher and left with his face in his hand, but God had another direction for his life. What that man used to insult him, Mr. Poitier used to motivate himself, to push himself and look at him now; a very educated, well spoken actor. Not even just an actor; he is an achiever of life! So when others try to tell you what you can’t do, or look at you as if to say how dare you attempt this life when you come from that, you say to yourself and them, “I will not allow my trials & tribulations of life to define me…I define myself!”-Bianca Lynnette