Halle Berry Says Her Historic Oscar Win “Meant Nothing” for Hollywood Diversity
In 2002, when Halle Berry became the first black woman to win the best-actress Oscar, she dedicated the award to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” It felt like an important, emotionally charged moment of change in Hollywood history. Fifteen years later, though, Berry remains the only woman of color to have received that prestigious award. And in a new interview, Berry confessed how hurt she is by the Academy’s lack of diversity progress—highlighting the 2016 Oscar nominations, which inspired the #OscarsSoWhite backlash, as “probably one of my lowest professional moments.”
Remembering the moment in 2016 when she heard that the Oscar nominations that year did not feature a single actor of color, Berry told Teen Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth that she sat there, remembering the emotional Oscar speech she gave in 2002.
“I don’t even remember where that speech came from, because I didn’t have a speech [planned],” Berry said, speaking at a panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “I was pretty sure Sissy Spacek was going to win. That [sentiment] just was what was ruminating in my spirit during that whole process.”
When she heard about the 2016 nominations, though, she was struck with a sickening realization about her historic Oscar win.
“I sat there and I really thought, ‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing.’”
“I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that,” Berry continued. “It inspired me to try to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing. I want to start producing more. I want to start making more opportunities for people of color. I have conversations more deeply with Academy members, and I’m trying to figure out how to help and add more diversity to the Academy.”
“These kinds of groups have to start changing and have to become more conscious and more inclusive,” Berry added. “I think black people . . . people of color . . . only have a chance to win based on how much we’re allowed to put out. That says to me that we need more people of color writing, directing, producing—not just starring. We have to start telling stories that include us.”
Since Berry’s win, eight women of color have been nominated in the best-actress category—Ruth Negga, of Loving, being the most recent.