Halle Berry on 2002 Oscar Win and the state of diversity in Hollywood
In 2002, Halle Berry made history. After her performance in Monsters Ball, Berry became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. While amazing at the time, if you look back on it, it may not have been as historic as we are led to believe. That night in 2002 Sidney Poitier was being honored for his achievements in entertainment. That same night both Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won awards for Best Actor and Actress in a Motion Picture (Washington for Training Day). In reflecting on both awards, one must wonder if those awards were in honor of the actor and actress, Sidney Poitier, or blacks in Cinema.
The sad reality is that, since Berry’s achievement, there has not been another black woman to win it since. Berry gave her thoughts on the award in a recent interview saying “Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing.”
In her reflection he spoke about 2016 explaining that the all white nominations were “probably one of my lowest professional moments.” It brought her own history-making win (and unforgettable acceptance speech) to mind, which she dedicated to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”
And Berry is not wrong. Things should have gotten better for everyone, but one could make the argument that 2002 was the best it has and ever will be. The good news is that Berry is now more focused on pushing diversity in Hollywood. According to Berry, the lack of diversity “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 into the Academy.”
A much needed step in the right direction.