While Halle Berry is the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, she recently said it was vital for her to see women who looked like her on TV and in movies growing up.
Halle Berry appears in an upcoming PBS documentary, American Masters: How it Feels To Be Free, which celebrates trailblazing black female entertainers like Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Lena Horne, Pam Grier, and Abbey Lincoln.
Alicia Keys is the executive producer of the project, produced by Yap Films.
Halle Berry said in a clip:
“Growing up I really struggled to find images of Black women or women that I could identify with. Early on, I remember seeing Lena Horne in ‘Stormy Weather.’ I remember seeing Dorothy Dandridge in ‘Carmen Jones.’ And then a little after that, I remember seeing Diahann Carroll in ‘Julia’ and that just rearranged me.”She continued and said it was extra special because the women of color she did see played aspiring roles.
“Seeing Diahann Carroll being the star of a show and playing a mother who was a nurse, who was educated, who was beautiful, just rearranged me and it made me realize I had value and I could turn to every week a woman that looked like who I would aspire to be when I grew up and that was very, very important, especially because my mother was white.”
Halle Berry’s mother, Judith Ann Hawkins, is a white woman. The Losing Isaiah actress continued and said:
“I was a Black child being raised by a white woman, so I didn’t have those images in my household. Finding them on television and through movies became very, very crucial for me.”
In September, Halle Berry said being the only African American to win the Best Actress Oscar award is “one of my biggest heartbreaks.”
“The morning after, I thought, ‘Wow, I was chosen to open a door,’ and then, to have no one … 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.”