Halle Berry Calls Her Historic 2002 Oscar Win 'One of My Biggest Heartbreaks'
"I wanted to believe it was so much bigger than me," the actress said of becoming the first (and still the only) Black performer to win Best Actress at the Oscars
Halle Berry is reflecting on her history-making Oscar win.
Back in 2002, Berry became the first Black performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, taking home the golden statue for her performance in Monster's Ball.
Now, in a new interview with Variety, Berry, 54, said that the win is "one of my biggest heartbreaks" since it didn't break the boundaries it was supposed to, for her own career or the industry as a whole.
“The morning after, I thought, ‘Wow, I was chosen to open a door.’ And then, to have no one …,” she said. “I question, ‘Was that an important moment, or was it just an important moment for me?’ I wanted to believe it was so much bigger than me. It felt so much bigger than me, mainly because I knew others should have been there before me and they weren’t.”
“Just because I won an award doesn’t mean that, magically, the next day, there was a place for me,” added Berry. “I was just continuing to forge a way out of no way.”
“I think it’s largely because there was no place for someone like me,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh, all these great scripts are going to come my way; these great directors are going to be banging on my door.’ It didn’t happen. It actually got a little harder. They call it the Oscar curse. You’re expected to turn in award-worthy performances.”
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Since Berry's win 18 years ago, no other Black actress has been awarded the Best Actress prize. "I thought there were women that rightfully, arguably, could have, should have," Berry told Variety. "I hoped they would have, but why it hasn’t gone that way, I don’t have the answer."
Berry also reflected on her memorable acceptance speech, admitting that she didn't prep a speech at the time — and sharing the sweet words Russell Crowe, who presented the Oscar to her, offered onstage.
“The only thing I remember is somehow I was up on the stage, and I remember Russell whispering in my ear, ‘Breathe, mate. Breathe.’ Then I remember I turned around and saw all the faces and started talking,” recalled Berry.
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In Monster's Ball, Berry plays a grieving woman named Leticia Musgrove who becomes romantically entangled with Billy Bob Thornton's Hank Grotowski, a racist man she doesn't know is the one who executed her husband.
Berry remembered how she was given career advice against taking the part, given a provocative sex scene she shares with Thornton.
“It was a little movie,” Berry said. “and it had this love scene that, I guess, was explicit in the minds of some people. And I was getting paid nothing. They thought if you’re going to do something like that, get a s---load of money. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I didn’t feel it was exploitative. It was necessary for the character.”