Now more than 15 years after making Oscars history, Halle Berry is still fighting for more representation in Hollywood.
At the 2002 Academy Awards, the actress became the first black woman to win in the Best Actress category for her performance in Monster’s Ball. She’s still the only woman of color to hold the title, which Halle described to Teen Vogue‘s Elaine Welteroth as “troubling.”
Reflecting on the 2016 Oscars, where nominations were awarded to strictly white actors, Halle called it “probably one of my lowest professional moments.” It brought her own history-making win (and unforgettable acceptance speech) to mind, which she dedicated to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”
“I sat there, and I remembered that speech,” she reflected at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “I don’t even know where that speech came from because I didn’t have a speech [planned.]”
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Berry continued, “I was pretty sure Sissy Spacek was going to win. That [speech] just was what was ruminating in my spirit during that whole process, and it just came out.”
But because of the slowed progress made since then, Halle remembers thinking, “‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing.'”
Ruth Neggawas the last woman of color nominated for Best Actress at the 2017 ceremony. Before the Loving star, seven actresses of color including Viola Davis, Salma Hayekand Gabourey Sidibe received nods.
“I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that,” Berry explained. “It inspired me to try to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing. I want to start producing more. 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 into the Academy.”
The 50-year-old mom of two presented the following solution to address show biz’s lack of diversity: “These kinds of groups have to start changing and we have to start becoming more conscious and more inclusive.”
“I think black people, people of color only have a chance to win based on how much 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.”