The Oscars Caribbean connection
Sydney Poitier in 1963

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- British film-maker Steve McQueen has not been afraid to play up his Caribbean heritage as he basks in the success of the movie, 12 Years a Slave.

At tonight's Academy Awards in Los Angeles, 12 Years a Slave is up for nine awards including Best Director (for McQueen) and Best Picture.

Not many actors/directors/producers with Caribbean roots have won Academy Awards. In fact, only Sidney Poitier who won Best Actor in 1963 for his role in Lilies of The Field, has an Oscar statuette.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian parents. He spent some of his youth in the Bahamas.

Poitier received an honorary Academy Award in 2002.

Cicely Tyson was nominated for Best Actress in 1972 for her part in Sounder. Tyson was born in New York City to parents from the island of Nevis.

McQueen, who was born in London to Grenadian parents, says he learned little about slavery in British schools. He credits his Caribbean roots for making him aware of a trade which thrived in that region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Based on the autobiography of a free black man who was enslaved in the American south during the mid-19th century, 12 Years a Slave has won several awards including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.

Howard Campbell

McQueen born in London to Grenadian parents

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