Berry, who is the only African-American actress to have won an Academy Award for best actress, addressed the issue at the 2016 Makers Conference on Tuesday, where she called it the “elephant in the room.”
“To sit here almost 15 years later, and knowing that another woman of color has not walked through that door, is heartbreaking,” Berry said. “It’s heartbreaking, because I thought that moment was bigger than me. It’s heartbreaking to start to think maybe it wasn’t bigger than me. Maybe it wasn’t. And I so desperately felt like it was.”
Aside from Berry’s 2001 win for her role in “Monster’s Ball,” only three other African-American actresses have been nominated, including Gabourey Sidibe in 2009 for her role in “Precious,” Viola Davis in 2011 for “The Help” and Quvenzhane Wallis in 2012 for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Berry, who in her acceptance speech said, “the door tonight has been opened,” believes the problem runs much deeper than just within the Academy; she contends the problem is industry-wide, and stems from film’s inaccurate portrayals of diverse characters.
“The reason they’re not truthful, these days, is that they’re not really depicting the importance and the involvement and the participation of people of color in our American culture,” Berry said.