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16th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball - Arrivals

Source: Jason LaVeris / Getty

When Halle Berry won an Oscar in 2002 for her role in Monster’s Ball, it was a groundbreaking moment. She became the first Black woman to win the Best Actress category. “This moment is so much bigger than me,” she said. “It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Now, 15 years later, Berry is telling a different story. She sat down with Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth at Cannes Lion and talked diversity in the industry. When in 2016 she saw the Oscar nominations didn’t include any actors of color, Berry got a reality check. Referring to her 2002 win, she said, “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.’” To this day there has yet to be another Black woman to win the Best Actress category. 

Berry said she was hurt by the lack of POC recognition from the Academy. “It inspired me to try to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing,” she said. “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.”

She further said that people of color being able to win awards is partially based on opportunity. “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.”

Well said, Halle.

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