“This is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because this door has been opened,” a triumphant Halle Berry
announced when she won the Best Actress Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” in 2002. Berry’s acceptance speech was recently quoted back to her by Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth
at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Berry was the first black woman to receive the honor — and after 15 years, she’s still the only black woman with the award.
“It’s troubling, to say the least,” Berry told Welteroth about the lack of change since her win. “It was probably one of my lowest professional moments,” she added, referencing the two consecutive years of #OscarsSoWhite.
“I sat there and I thought, ‘Wow, [my speech] really meant nothing, that meant nothing. I thought it meant something but I think that meant nothing,’” Berry explained. “And I was profoundly hurt by that and saddened by that and it inspired me to try and get involved in other ways.”
None of the acting nominees at the 2015 or 2016 Oscar ceremonies were people of color — Berry described the severe lack of inclusivity as a “blackout” — which, in turn, inspired the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and conversations about racial inequality in Hollywood. As Berry pointed out, the lack of opportunity onscreen and off is why people of color are often shut out from award nods.
“I want to start directing, I want to star producing more, I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of color,” Berry said. “We have to start telling stories that include us and if stories don’t include us, we have to start asking, ‘Why can’t that be a person of color? Why can’t that white male character be a black woman? Why can’t it?’ We have to start pushing the envelope and asking these questions.”
Berry has served as producer on several of her projects, including the upcoming thriller “Kidnap
,” the sci-fi series “Extant
,” and the multiple personality disorder drama “Frankie & Alice.” Her recent screen credits include “Kevin Hart
: What Now?” “X-Men: Days of Future Past
,” and “The Call
.” Berry will appear next in “Kings
,” the English-language debut from “Mustang
” helmer Deniz Gamze Ergüven
, and this fall’s star-studded action comedy “Kingsman: The Golden Circle
,” in which Berry plays the mother of an abducted child, hits theaters August 4.
Head over to Teen Vogue to watch Berry’s entire conversation with Welteroth. The “X-Men” actress discusses her history of trailblazing, the Black Lives Matter movement, and her racial identity.
Quote of the Day: Halle Berry
Talks the Lack of Change Since Her Historic 2002 Oscar Win was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.