She may have made history as the first Black woman to win Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball, at the 74th Academy Awards in 2002, but, according to actress Halle Berry, the moment that launched her to superstardom, didn’t do much to pave the way for a more diverse pool of talent.
In a recent chat with Teen Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth, the 50-year-old claimed that her Oscar triumph “meant nothing.”
“I was pretty sure Sissy Spacek was going to win. That [sentiment] is just was what was ruminating in my spirit during that whole process,” said Berry, adding that her excitement waned following the 2016 #OscarsSoWhite movement, when 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were all White.
During her acceptance speech, Berry dedicated the award to “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” Only now, taking a page from Mahatma Gandhi, Berry feels like she must be the change she wishes to see in the world and take the matter into her own hands.
“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 explained. “I was profoundly hurt by that, and saddened by that.
“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 to the Academy.”
Since walking away with the top prize, only eight women of color have been nominated in the Best Actress category. Viola Davis was among the last to be honored for her work, when she nabbed the accolade for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences this year.