Halle Berry has pulled out of a role in an upcoming film in which she’d play a transgender character after facing backlash online.
In an Instagram live interview on Friday, the actor said she had been preparing for the role, but had not been officially cast.
“[It’s] a character where the woman is a trans character, so she’s a woman that transitioned into a man. She’s a character in a project I love that I might be doing,” Berry had said. She added that she wanted to take a “deep dive” into “that world,” likely referring to the trans community.
However, Berry faced backlash online after misgendering the character multiple times during the interview.
“Who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next project,” she said.
On Monday night, she issued an apology and pulled out of the role, saying “the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”
“Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks. As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories,” she wrote. “I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.”
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 7, 2020
Berry’s comments caught the attention of the Twitter account for the Netflix documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen,” which was released last month and examines Hollywood’s portrayal of transgender people and their stories.
The doc’s account asked that Berry watch the film to “understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”
Hi @halleberry, we heard you're considering playing a trans man in your next project. We ask that you please watch @Disclosure_Doc on @netflix first to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen. #DisclosureNetflix
— Disclosure Documentary (@Disclosure_Doc) July 6, 2020
After Berry’s apology, the account thanked her for “listening and learning.” The LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD also responded, saying “We are pleased that Halle Berry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching ‘Disclosure’ to learn about trans representation in media.”
We are pleased that @halleberry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them. Other powerful people should do the same. A good place to start is by watching @Disclosure_Doc to learn about trans representation in media. https://t.co/SAxSvXxbk3
— GLAAD (@glaad) July 7, 2020
— Disclosure Documentary (@Disclosure_Doc) July 7, 2020
In recent years, cisgender actors have faced controversy over playing transgender characters. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transgender character in the film “Rub and Tug,” sparking backlash from trans rights groups and activists. A week later, she exited the role.