Halle Berry Said It’s “Heartbreaking” That a Black Woman Hasn’t Won a Best Actress Oscar Since Her

It's been nearly 20 years since Berry's historic win.

In 2002, Halle Berry was the first Black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, but she didn’t want to be the last. Nearly 20 years after winning the award for her role in Monster’s Ball, the actress opened up about being heartbroken that the Academy hasn’t awarded the title to another Black woman since.

“The heartbreak I have is because I really thought that night meant that very soon after that, other women of color, Black women, would stand beside me,” she told The Mirror in a January 9th interview. “Now it’s been 20 years and no one has, and so every time Oscar time comes around, I get very reflective and I think, ‘Well maybe this year, maybe this year. It has become heartbreaking that no one else has stood there.”

Berry, now 54, knew very well the significance of her historic win in 2002. When she accepted her award, she said, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Berry also told The Mirror that she’s aware of how her win impacted Black women ever since. “That moment mattered because so many people have come up to me over the years and told me how that moment shifted their thinking about what they could achieve, what they aspire to do, or what they believed they could do—that they were touched by that moment,” Berry said. “That is the value that I know is real.”

The Academy, however, hasn’t demonstrated any commitment to valuing Black women since Berry’s win. Since 2002, as The Mirror reports, 12 Black actresses have been nominated for the Best Actress award, but none of them have won. With 92 white stars claiming the title since the first Oscars ceremony in 1929, the award show has a long history of snubbing actresses of color.

While the Oscars have fallen short, Berry has continued to make room for herself and other Black women in Hollywood. The actress fought for her most recent role in Bruised, in which she stars as a disgraced martial arts fighter, a role that was originally written for a 25-year-old white Irish woman.

The film, which has yet to be given a release date, will also be her directorial debut. In an Instagram post sharing the news of the film, Berry made clear that she plans to keep pushing forward and breaking boundaries—and inspired others to do the same. “To anyone who’s been told that you ‘can’t,'” she wrote. “2021 is the year of my directorial debut, in which I also star, and I can’t wait to share this labor of love!”

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