Halle Berry’s 2002 win at the Academy Awards was a historic moment.
When presenter Russell Crowe opened the envelope and read Berry’s name for her performance in “Monster’s Ball,” she became the first Black woman to win an Oscar for best actress. Through tears, Berry thanked the women who came before her — including Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll — and proclaimed that she’d opened a door for “every nameless, faceless woman of color” watching at home.
This week, Berry is set to make her debut as a features director at the Toronto Film Festival with the drama “Bruised.” In an interview with Variety, Berry expressed disappointment that not a single Black woman has been named best actress at the Oscars since she stood at the podium 18 years ago.
“I thought Cynthia [Erivo, the star of ‘Harriet’] was going to do it last year,” Berry says. “I thought Ruth [Negga, nominated for 2016’s ‘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.”
Berry is still conflicted about what her Oscar win represents. “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 wanted to believe it was so much bigger than me. It felt so much bigger than me, mainly because I knew others should have been there before me and they weren’t.”
In retrospect, Berry says it was naive to think a statue would change anything. “Just because I won an award doesn’t mean that, magically, the next day, there was a place for me,” she says. “I was just continuing to forge a way out of no way.”
In “Bruised,” which premieres at Toronto on Sept. 12, Berry plays a mixed martial arts fighter. To read more from Berry’s cover story, click here.