Halle Berry says living in a homeless shelter at the start of her career helped make her become the woman she is today.
The Oscar winner, 50, opened up about the experience on The Jess Cagle Interview with PEOPLE’s editor-in-chief, where she was on hand to promote her new film Kidnap, an action-packed thriller about a mother’s mission to save her kidnapped child.
“That was rough,” Berry said. “Some fine hours.”
When she first moved to the city, Berry explained that she had some money in her pocket from a modeling gig — but she soon learned that cash doesn’t go a long way in the Big Apple.
“I mean three months later, I was out of my cash,” she explained. “I called my mother and asked her to send me some money, and she said no, and that subsequently led to a year of not speaking to her because I was so upset that she wouldn’t help me.”
FROM PEN: Watch Jennifer Lopez Tear Up Remembering Her Twins Being Born
Watch the full episode of The Jess Cagle Interview with Halle Berry on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network starting Aug. 9! Download the PEN app on your favorite device or go to PEOPLE.com/PEN.
Now, looking back on her mom’s tough love, Berry said, “That’s probably one of the best things she did for me … She said, ‘If you want to be there, then you work it out.’ And I had to work it out.”
Despite the hardship, the actress said, “Giving up was never an option.”
She added, “It was prove to her and everybody else. It took me right back to my high school years. ‘You say I can’t, watch me. I’m going to figure this out.’ And shelter life was part of figuring it out for a minute until I could get a waitressing job. Then I got a bartending job, and until I could figure that out, that’s what I did.”
Berry’s latest film Kidnap is in theaters now.