In 2002, Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball. Nearly 20 years later, Berry remains the only Black woman to have ever received the prestigious accolade — a distinction that upsets her.
“The heartbreak I have is because I really thought that night meant that very soon after that, other women of color, Black women, would stand beside me. Now it’s been 20 years and no one has, and so every time Oscar time comes around, I get very reflective and I think, ‘Well maybe this year, maybe this year,’” the 54-year-old star told the Mirror in an interview. “It has become heartbreaking that no one else has stood there.”
It’s not the first time Berry has reflected on her expectations for Hollywood and the fact that no other Black woman has followed her historic win. In Variety last fall, Berry shared, “I thought Cynthia [Erivo, the star of Harriet] was going to do it last year. I thought Ruth [Negga, nominated for 2016’s Loving] had a really good shot at it too. I thought there were women that rightfully, arguably, could have, should have. I hoped they would have, but why it hasn’t gone that way, I don’t have the answer.”
When Berry took the stage to accept her award in 2002, she said to the audience, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”
Berry herself is once again being circulated in Oscar contention conversation, this time for her role in Bruised, in which she both starred and directed. The part she plays, conceived as a 25-year-old white Irish woman, took a little finessing for Berry to land as she had to convince the producers she was the right person for this martial arts fighter comeback story.
“I knew ‘as written’ the role could not be me. But what I loved was it was a classic fight film,” she says.
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