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She inherited the good looks. She inherited her father’s name. And luckily for Sydney Tamiia Poitier, the star of UPN’s new Tuesday night sitcom “Abby,” real talent came with the package. Poitier, the 29-year-old daughter of Sidney Poitier and Johanna Shimkus, plays Abby, a TV producer living in San Francisco in the rent-controlled apartment neither she nor her ex-boyfriend will give up. The show is fun — but watching Poitier makes it worthwhile. She delivers her lines with more grace and charisma than the show’s classic scripts can muster.

“I’d never done a sitcom and never thought I wanted to,” says Poitier, who lives in Los Angeles. “But I thought the character was really cute. We’re both optimistic. She’s hard-working and good-natured, and I think I possess some of those qualities, too.” That doesn’t mean, however, that Poitier isn’t up to more challenging roles.

This story first appeared in the January 9, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I tend to get offered a lot of sweet and bubbly characters,” she says. “I’d love to do something dark, something a little more bad-ass.”

If the buzz surrounding her recent performances reaches the ears of Hollywood’s casting directors, then surely Poitier will have her choice of roles. Even TV critics who panned the debut of “Abby” recommended tuning in for another look at the young star.

Of course, becoming as famous as her father certainly would make life a little easier for Poitier. “I usually only use my first and last names, and only use my middle name as a stage name,” she says. “When I make a reservation at a restaurant, the profound disappointment when I show up is so sad. Just the looks on their faces — I feel so bad!”

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