Why Halle Berry believes her historic Oscar win "meant nothing" to diversity in Hollywood
Halle Berry's best actress Oscar win for Monster's Ball in 2002 was historic, as she became the first African-American woman to receive the honor. During her tearful acceptance speech, she searched for the right words to express the weight of her emotions.
"This moment is so much bigger than me," said Berry. The actress dedicated the award to every legend that paved the way for her — "Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll."
She prophesied that more actresses of color would follow her footsteps. "And it's for every nameless, faceless women of color, that now has the chance because this door tonight has been opened." But 15 years later, Berry is still the only black woman to win the award.
The 50-year-old actress finds this fact troubling. During a conversation with Teen Vogue's editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Berry admitted that her win hasn't made the impact that she'd hoped.
"Two Oscars ago, whenever we had the black out, I sat there and I thought, 'Wow, that moment really meant nothing'," Berry said in a video posted on Tuesday. "I thought it meant something but I think that meant nothing. And I was profoundly hurt by that and saddened by that."
In 2016, black actors and directors boycotted the Oscars for the lack of people of color nominated for the awards. Although this was a disappointing moment for Berry, it also inspired her to raise her voice and do more to close the racial diversity gap in Hollywood.
"I want to start directing," Berry explained. "I want to start producing more. I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of color."
Moving forward, she believes that increasing the representation of people of color in Hollywood will give them more of an opportunity to be recognized for their work by the Academy.
"We need more people of color writing, directing, producing — not just starring. We have to start telling stories that include us," she added.
During the interview, Berry also touched on the Black Lives Matter movement and said that it was something that affects her and her family. "That could be my son," Berry said. Although she didn't reference any specific cases, Berry was likely referring to young black boys who have been killed by police. These cases include Tamir Rice, who was killed at 12, or Jordan Edwards, who was killed at 15.
With the current political climate, Berry is encouraging people to get involved in their communities.
"When I have conversations, that's what I ask people. 'Okay. That is terrible.' But what are you doing to help change that situation. How are you getting involved?" Berry said.
It's clear: Listening to Berry's wise words will be good for the future of Hollywood and society as a whole.
Mic has ongoing arts coverage. Please follow our main arts hub here.