Halle Berry admits she’s “profoundly hurt” that her 2002 Oscar win didn’t lead to a rise in diversity

Fifteen years after winning an Oscar, Halle Berry has shared how saddened she is by the fact that her landmark Academy Award win didn’t lead to a rise in diversity.

The actress is still the only woman of color to ever take home the award for Best Leading Actress. And while Viola Davis made history this year by becoming the first black woman to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting, black women are still sorely underrepresented in film.

Berry’s 2002 speech was pretty rousing, as she dedicated her award to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”


The actor was speaking at Cannes Lions 2017 when she broached the topic of the infamous 2016 Oscars where not a single person of color was nominated for major awards. It was a time that she described as “one of my lowest professional moments.”

"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,'" she said about her win in 2002. "I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that."

Berry said that lack of diversity encouraged her to get involved in different aspects of the movie making world, including producing more and eventually directing.

“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,” she explained.

“These kinds of groups have to start changing and have to become more conscious and more inclusive. I think black people — people of color — only have a chance to win based on how much product we’re allowed to put out. That says to me that we need more people of color writing, directing, producing—not just starring. We have to start telling stories that include us. And if stories don’t include us we have to start asking why can’t that be a person of color?”

Berry’s comments echo Viola Davis’s now iconic Academy Award acceptance speech, in which she encouraged people to look beyond typical storytelling.

While we think that Halle Berry saying that her win didn’t matter is underselling just how important it was, she is right by saying that there is still an inclusivity and diversity problem in Hollywood. As she notes, until there are people of color operating in all aspects of the creative industries, not just in front of the camera, people won’t be looking for stories outside their (predominantly white) experiences.

Halle Berry’s comments are just another reminder of how inspirational and awe-inspiring she can be.

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