Halle Berry was honored with the Critics Choice Awards’ “SeeHer” award on Sunday night, and used her acceptance speech to address her experience in Hollywood, and how her idea of success has had to change.
Per the Critics Choice Association, the award “honors a woman who advocates for gender equality, portrays characters with authenticity, defies stereotypes and pushes boundaries.” Berry now joins the ranks of previous honorees, including Zendaya, Viola Davis, Gal Gadot, Kristen Bell, and more.
In her speech, Berry noted that her idea of success — particularly as a Black woman — has evolved over the years.
“I’ve been in the business for 30 years, and I used to think if I could play the part of a white man, I was winning,” she said. “Want to know know why that didn’t work? Because if you didn’t know, I’m not a white man! For those roles to work, it would have to be substantially changed.”
At the start of her speech, Berry regaled the audience with a story of a conversation she had with a man, after her directorial debut “Bruised” was released. According to the actress, the man said he was uncomfortable seeing a woman get so badly beaten on screen. (“Bruised” follows Berry as Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter, who gets back into the ring).
“We truly need to see each other’s reality, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us,” she said.
Berry encouraged women to create and pursue stories that reflect their true selves, even if those stories are messy. “If we deny our complexity, then we deny our humanity,” she said.
“We will write, we will produce, we will direct, and if we’re brave enough, we will star in it all at the same time,” Berry added. “We will tell stories that don’t fit preconceived notions.”
To finish off her speech, she spoke to women who weren’t in the room.
“To every little girl who feels unseen and unheard, this is our way of saying to you, we love you and we see you,” Berry said. “And you deserve every good thing in this world”