15 years. It’s been 15 years since Halle Berry won Best Actress in a Leading Role at the 2002 Oscars. 15 years later, she’s still the only black actress to win the award.
Speaking with Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth at IPG Women’s Breakfast, they talked about diversity in the film industry.
When Welteroth asked how does she view her win in terms of progress and representation in Hollywood, she said: “It’s troubling, to say the least. A few years ago, when there was a complete blackout for us (referring to #OscarsSoWhite), it was probably one of my lowest professional moments. I thought wow…that moment meant nothing. I was profoundly hurt and saddened by that.”
Since that moment, Berry says it has inspired her to get involved in the industry in other ways to do something about it. She wants to get into directing (a first for her) and producing content for black people.
She also wants to add more diversity to The Academy. “These kinds of groups have to start changing. We have to start becoming more conscious and more inclusive. I think black people and people color only have a chance to win based on how much product we’re allowed to put out. This means to me, we need more people of color writing, directing and producing — not just starring. If stories don’t include us, we have to start asking ‘Why can’t that be a person of color?’, ‘Why can that white male character be a black woman?’ We have to start pushing the envelope and asking questions.”
Since her win in 2002, 15 long years ago, only 4 black actresses have been nominated in the Best Actress Oscar in a Leading Role category — Gabourey Sidibe for Precious; Viola Davis for The Help; Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild; and Ruth Negga for Loving. Of course, none of the 4 won.
So her famous acceptance speech in which she proclaimed that the “doors have been opened” for other black actresses to follow in her footstep, hasn’t quite panned out.
Watch Berry and Welteroth’s conversation below: