Halle Berry: It’s Hard to Get Roles as a Woman of Color

Halle Berry
Halle Berry spoke about her career and roles for black women. Mark Davis/Getty Images

Not enough. Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win a Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar in 2002, and 13 years later, she remains the only one. 

Berry, who gave a memorably emotional speech accepting her award for Monster's Ball, spoke to The Guardian about the lack of opportunities for black women in Hollywood, and her thoughts on the Oscar.

"I’m disappointed," she told the publication of the lack of subsequent black Best Actress winners. "I’m inspired though, when I see how many people of color are doing such good work out there." 

"The quality and value of our work isn’t determined by an award," Berry, 48, added. "I would like to see more of them recognized, absolutely, but we all need to find the win in the work, and doing our craft. The real win is when we’re not just selling stories of color, that people of color can be in everyday stories. Where we’re not saying: 'These are the movies for black people.'"

The next three black nominees for Best Actress following Berry teetered on said category. In 2010, Gabourey Sidibe was nominated for the movie Precious, which tells the story of an impoverished, abused young African-American woman living in Harlem. Next, Viola Davis was nominated in 2012 for her role in The Help, in which she played a maid in still-segregated Mississippi. Finally, Quvenzhané Wallis was nominated at the 2013 Oscars for her part as little girl Hushpuppy in the Louisiana bayou in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Berry went on to speak about the parts that she's been considered for, telling The Guardian that her biggest roadblock has been her race, rather than her age.

"I’ve always had a hard time getting roles, being of color, so I’ve got as many available to me as I’ve always had," the actress, who returned to TV this past summer as a star of CBS' sci-fi drama Extant, explained. "There's no difference for me. When I was 21, it was as hard as it is now when I’m 48. For me it’s the same."

After her celebrated role in 2001's Monster's Ball, Berry went on to appear in action flicks like Die Another Day and X2: X-Men United. She also starred in 2004's Catwoman film, a choice the star explained to Vogue as a calculated risk in an attempt to break the Oscars curse.

"Everybody talks about the Oscar curse," she told the mag in 2010. "People win Oscars, and then it seems like they fall off the planet. And that’s partly because a huge expectation walks in the room and sits right down on top of your head. The moment I won the Oscar, I felt the teardown the very next day. I thought, If I’m going down, I’m going down taking chances and daring to risk."

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