Halle Berry Called Zendaya “Proof Positive” That Hollywood Is Changing for the Better

"A Black woman can do that."

Halle Berry, like all of us, is inspired by Zendaya. On Saturday, January 30th, the two award-winning actors gathered virtually, along with Andra Day, Sia, and Robin Wright, for a Sundance Film Festival panel thrown by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. On the panel, aptly named “Women Breaking Barriers: An Industry Shift,” Zendaya discussed some of her recent projects, and Berry shared what it meant to watch the young actress have so much success.

The Euphoria star, who video-called in from her trailer on the set of the next Spider-Man film, talked about producing for the first time on Malcolm & Marie, which was filmed last summer during the pandemic. “It was my first time putting my own money into something,” she said. “I’m doing my own hair and makeup, everybody’s doing five different jobs because it was a skeleton crew. I was bringing my own clothes and using them as set dressing.”

Berry seemed just as in awe as we are. “At 24 that she can have an idea and go get it done and get enough support behind her to get that done… I think that says so much for where we’ve gotten—and that’s what makes me want to keep fighting, because of Zendaya at 24, a Black woman can do that,” she said. “She is proof positive that things are changing.”

Berry herself has been fighting for more representation for Black women in Hollywood for a long time, and she did so quite literally in her most recent role. In the film Bruised, Berry plays an MMA fighter, a part that was originally written for a 25-year-old white Irish woman. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said about the physically taxing role.

Still, “as a Black woman, I’ve never felt more empowered the last two or three years,” she said, explaining that she wants to keep pushing to tell more stories through female perspectives.

“We have a different take on the world and it’s time that we’re allowed to have that lens. And I’ll tell you when I was making my movie, some of the people that I worked with who were around me kept trying to force me to tell the movie through their lens, that male lens that they understood,” she said. “And I would have to fight and say, ‘No, this feels foreign to you because guess what? It is. You’re a man, I’m a woman! My reality of being a woman is different than you think it is!'”

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