When Halle Berry won a Best Actress Oscar in 2002 for her performance in “Monster’s Ball,” it was widely considered to be a turning point for women of color in Hollywood. “Every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened,” she said in a powerful acceptance speech.
But 15 years later, Berry is still the only black woman to ever win the award.
“It’s troubling. To say the least, it’s troubling,” Berry said in a conversation with Elaine Welteroth, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Of the 2015 Academy Awards, dubbed #OscarsSoWhite because no actors of color were nominated, Berry said, “It was one of my lowest professional moments… I sat there and I thought, wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something but I think it meant nothing.”
“I profoundly hurt by that and saddened by that, and it inspired me to try to get involved in other ways,” the actress went on. “Which is why I want to start directing. I want to start producing more, I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of color.”
Berry said she is also working on ways to help make the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences more diverse. “These kinds of groups have to start changing,” she said. “We have to be more conscious and more inclusive.”
“We need more people of color writing, directing, producing, not just starring. We have to start telling stories that include us,” she continued. “And when 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.”