Halle Berry Says She's Challenging Her 7-Year-Old Son 'All the Time' to Rethink Gender Stereotypes

"If we want to have a future that's different, that is where it starts," Halle Berry said.

Halle Berry
Halle Berry. Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

As a boy mom, Halle Berry is making sure her son grows up to challenge sexism.

While appearing on a virtual panel hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as a part of the Sundance Film Festival, the Bruised director opened up about being a mother to 7-year-old son Maceo Martinez, whom she shares with ex-husband Oliver Martinez.

"I have a 7-year-old son, and I have realized what my job is in raising him. If we want to have a future that's different, that is where it starts," Berry, 54, said during the panel, titled "Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift."

Berry, who is making her directorial debut at Sundance with her MMA drama, Bruised, was joined by HFPA members Elisabeth Sereda and Silvia Bizio, as well as Robin Wright, Andra Day, Sia and Zendaya during the panel.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"You made me think of how many conversations I've had with him, say, since he's turned 5 years old, about the differences in boys and girls, and I see how he's taught to feel like he's superior, at 5, than girls are," Berry said, addressing fellow actress Wright.

The mom of two continued, "I've had to really break that down for him and give him a new perspective, and challenge those thoughts and ask him to identify where that comes from, and if he believes that or not and challenge what he's subconsciously getting from somewhere. I can tell that because we're having those conversations he is going to grow as a deep thinker on the subject. He's going to be determined not to just accept it. I keep challenging him all the time, like 'Well, why is that a 'girl color?' "

Berry is also mom to daughter Nahla Ariela, 12, from her previous relationship with ex Gabriel Aubry.

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday. Get a taste of the podcast below.

Zendaya later chimed in to the conversation, explaining that as a 24-year-old in Hollywood, she feels fortunate to have already worked with men that respect her voice.

"I've been lucky enough to work with men who have respected my power, and encouraged it, with that being Sam [Levinson] and obviously John [David Washington]," the Euphoria star said. "I've been lucky to be in those experiences that are collaborative and open to what the world should be looking like."

"Had it not been for the women before me, I wouldn't be in this position," Zendaya added.

Berry then praised the Emmy Award-winning actress, calling her "proof positive" of how the world is changing to accept women in positions of power.

"I think she's a walking embodiment of that. At 24, that she can have an idea and go get it done and get enough support behind her to get that done — and to give her the power and keep the creativity. I think that says so much for where we've gotten," Berry said. "And that's what makes me want to keep fighting, because of Zendaya, at 24, a Black woman could do that. She is proof positive, things are changing. I couldn't be prouder."

Related Articles