While Halle Berry recognizes that she made history at the 2002 Oscars with her lead actress win for Monster’s Ball, she said in a recent interview that she still thinks it wasn’t enough.
“I was pretty sure Sissy Spacek was going to win [for In the Bedroom],” she told Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth of going up against some of Hollywood biggest names that year. “That [sentiment] is just what was ruminating in my spirit during that whole process.”
Still, the actress exuded positivity and hope when she gave her memorable and emotional acceptance speech that year, tearfully dedicating her win to all the women who had helped pave the way for her to triumph, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Angela Bassett and Vivica Fox.
“And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened,” she said at the time, lifting her Oscar high. “Thank you. I’m so honored.”
Fast-forward 14 years to 2016, when the glitz and glamour of the Oscars was largely overshadowed by #OscarsSoWhite, the social media movement calling out the Academy for its glaring lack of diversity; the 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were all white.
“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,'” Berry said of realizing how little progress had been made in the years since her win. “I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that.”
In the years following Berry’s historic win, eight women of color have been nominated in the lead actress category, including Salma Hayek (Frida) in 2003, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) in 2010, and Ruth Negga (Loving) this past year. None of them took home the hardware.
But for Berry, the #OscarsSoWhite problem poses a challenge rather than a roadblock. “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.”