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We propose and demonstrate electrostatic sidewall-electrodes actuation of three-dimensional (3-D) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) gimbal mirrors. The linearity of the mirror angle dependence on actuation voltage is improved with the sidewall-electrodes actuation. In addition, the undesired spring-softening effect commonly found in electrostatic actuation, where the mirror resonance frequency decreases with increased tilt angle, is significantly reduced. Sidewall actuation enables superior performance of 3-D MEMS mirrors including large pull-in angles, reduced actuation voltages, improved device reliability, and fast switching times.