Culture

Halle Berry Reflecting on Her Historic Best Actress Oscar Win 20 Years Later “It Didn’t Open the Door”

Speaking with The New York Times, Halle Berry said not seeing a Black actress win an Oscar for Best Actress after her was “heartbreaking.”

Halle Berry made strides for her 2002 Oscar win for Best Actress, but she’s disappointed that she’s the first, and currently, only Black woman to take home the trophy. In a recent profile with The New York Times, the actress spoke about her Oscar feat and being letdown that The Academy Awards hasn’t awarded another Black actress.

“Back in those days, if you didn’t win the Globe, you really didn’t get the Academy Award,” Berry said. “So I’d pretty much resigned myself to believing, ‘It’s great to be here, but I’m not going to win.’ “

In 2002, Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress after starring opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Marc Forster-directed drama Monster’s Ball. During her speech, Berry mentioned legendary Black actresses including Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Diahann Caroll before referencing her contemporaries Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Angela Bassett.

“This is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened,” Berry said, concluding her speech.

But in the NYT profile, Berry was partially discouraged about the win: “It didn’t open the door,” Berry said. “The fact that there’s no one standing next to me is heartbreaking.”

The actress still found a silver lining, saying that “We can’t always judge success or progress by how many awards we have.”

“Awards are the icing on the cake — they’re your peers saying you were exceptionally excellent this year,” she said. “But does that mean that if we don’t get the exceptionally excellent nod, that we were not great, and we’re not successful, and we’re not changing the world with our art, and our opportunities aren’t growing?”

 

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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