It’s been 18 years since Halle Berry became the first – and still only – black woman to win a best actress Oscar, but only now are there signs of change in Tinseltown, the actress and director says.
Last week the Oscars announced new plans to promote diversity and inclusion by instituting mandatory quotas for performers and behind-the-scenes crew members in films which want to compete for the Oscars. However, these new requirements will not go into effect until Oscars 2024.
Halle (54), who made her directorial debut this year with Bruised, in which she plays an MMA fighter, tells Variety that “now is a turning point” when it comes to women directors.
“I’m more encouraged that, as women, we are feeling confident enough to tell our stories. And there is a place for us to tell our stories. For so long, our experiences have been told narratively through the guise of men.”
Bruised had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last week, and Netflix has bought it for $20 million. It’s expected to be available on the streamer sometime next year.
In 2002, Halle won the best actress Oscar for her role in Monster’s Ball, becoming the first black woman to win in that category.
however, turned out to be a hollow one. “It’s one of my biggest heartbreaks,”
she says. “The morning after, I thought, ‘Wow, I was chosen to open a door’.
And then, to have no one . . . I question, ‘Was that an important moment, or
was it just an important moment for me?’
“I thought Cynthia [Erivo] was going to do it last year [for Harriet]. I thought Ruth [Negga in Loving] had a really good shot at it too. I thought there were women that rightfully, arguably, could have, should have. I hoped they would have, but why it hasn’t gone that way. I don’t have the answer.”
Halle followed Monster’s Ball with a string of blockbuster hits – including the James Bond film Die Another Day, the X-Men movies, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and John Wick: Chapter 3 – but after her win she was dogged by “the Oscar curse”.
“You’re expected to turn in award-worthy performances,” she explains. “I thought, ‘Oh, all these great scripts are going to come my way, these great directors are going to be banging on my door’. It didn’t happen.”
The mother-of-two is one of only 14 black actors and actresses to have won a performing Oscar, for a leading or supporting role.
Check out Halle’s Oscar speech below.