Halle Berry made history in 2002 when she became the first Black actress to win in the Best Actress category at the Oscars for her role in Monster’s Ball. However, nearly 20 years later, she is still the only Black actress to receive the honor. The icon spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her thoughts on diversity in Hollywood and the work that still needs to be done.
While Halle made history almost 20 years ago, she is still breaking barriers for herself and others in entertainment. She just directed her first film Bruised, in which she also starred in and she co-executive produced the first all-female hip hop soundtrack to go along with the film. The movie was such a success for Netflix, Halle was offered a "multi-title" deal with the media juggernaut.
With all that she has accomplished recently, it’s a possibility that that may not have happened when she first started in the industry.
“There have been great strides made since the time I started 30 years ago — I looked around and I saw no Black faces,” Halle said. “I didn’t see my story and myself reflected very much at all in television or cinema. So as I sit here today, 30 years from the time I started, I see a huge difference. I see Black women, Black faces, Black people all around me. I see our stories being told. And so that tells me progress is happening. Is there work to be done? Yeah, but there’s always work to be done.”
What the 55-year-old forgot to mention is that she deserves a little credit for the changes made in Hollywood over time. With her platform, she has championed for other Black voices to be heard. That’s why it’s so disappointing to Halle that no other Black woman has won in the Academy Awards’ Best Actress category.
“Well, you never want to be the only one; when you win something like that, you hope that you can open the door and bring the others behind you,” she said. “So the fact that none have followed is heartbreaking. But it doesn’t diminish the moment for me, and it doesn’t diminish the accomplishment.”
“And when I look around at my peers like Viola [Davis] and Taraji [P. Henson] and all the other women that lately have been standing on the precipice of winning that award but fallen short, they are moving our needle forward — with or without an award. They are changing the face of women of color in this business in a major way.”
The Catwoman actress has shared similar sentiments in the past about being the only Black woman to win the prestigious award.
In a September 2020 interview with Variety, Halle said, “It’s one of my biggest heartbreaks. The morning after, I thought, ‘Wow, I was chosen to open a door.’ And then, to have no one … I question, ‘Was that an important moment, or was it just an important moment for me?’ I wanted to believe it was so much bigger than me. It felt so much bigger than me, mainly because I knew others should have been there before me and they weren’t.”
However, she began to sing a different tune after much thought on the accomplishment. “Just because I won an award doesn’t mean that, magically, the next day, there was a place for me. I was just continuing to forge a way out of no way.”
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