Despite winning an Oscar back in 2002, Halle Berry has shared how saddened she is by the fact that her landmark Academy Award win didn’t lead to a rise in diversity.
In a conversation with Teen Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Berry recalled not having a speech planned in 2002, when she became the first (and still only) black woman to win best actress, for her role in Monsters Ball.
Through tears, she told the audience that night: “This moment is so much bigger than me”.
Considering her overwhelmed reaction, it should come as no surprise that Berry did not expect to win. I sat there and I thought, “Wow that moment really meant nothing”.
She is still the only non-white woman to have been handed the accolade 15 years after she won the gong. It was probably one of my lowest professional moments because I sat there and I remembered that speech.
And that’s left Berry feeling like her momentous victory was ultimately meaningless, especially after no stars of color were nominated in any of the major acting categories in 2015 and 2016.
Berry’s acceptance speech at the Oscars is certainly one of the most memorable in the awards’ 89-year history. That just was what was ruminating in my spirit. “I thought it meant something but I think it meant nothing”. “I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that”.
Since then Halle has channelled her disappointment into action, sharing that the Academy’s failure inspired her to get involved in other ways such as producing and directing in order to create more opportunities for people of colour.
“I want to start making more opportunities for people of color”.
However, the veteran actress is becoming more proactive in making a change. She explained: “In my world I get so exhausted of people complaining about, “Oh Black Lives Matter, ‘ and they pontificate and pontificate about it, and I say, ‘Well what are you doing about that?”