Halle Berry Says It’s ‘Heartbreaking’ She’s Still the Only Woman of Color to Win Best Actress at the Oscars

The MAKERS Conference 2016 - Day 2
Halle Berry keeps it real. Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Of the many actors of color who’ve spoken out about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, many have themselves been nominees, but few have belonged to the exclusive club of Oscar winners. Now the first and only woman of color to win the Academy Award for Best Actress has expressed her disappointment over the lack of progress. Halle Berry, speaking at the 2016 Makers Conference on Tuesday, says she never imagined her historic win for Monster’s Ball in 2002 would be the last time a woman of color saw that kind of recognition from the Academy:

I believed that in that moment, that when I said, “The door tonight has been opened,” I believed that with every bone in my body that this was going to incite change because this door, this barrier, had been broken. And to sit here almost 15 years later, and knowing that another woman of color has not walked through that door, is heartbreaking. Because I thought that moment was bigger than me. It’s heartbreaking to start to think maybe it wasn’t bigger than me. And I so desperately felt like it was.”

Berry says she knew the problem was much bigger than her when that Oscar win didn’t afford her any more opportunities in Hollywood. “I realized after Oscar, not only had no other black woman walked through the door, I hadn’t gotten close either,” she says. “Something was wrong and I realized that I had to be in charge of my own destiny. I had to be a part of the change of our industry, not just sitting around pontificating and talking about it and complaining about what’s not right. I had to actively start to be a part of the change and I realize that was about creating my own projects, not just for me but for other women, other women of color.” (Berry went on to produce three movies and one TV show, CBS’s Extant.)

It’s a harsh reality that Best Supporting Actress winner Mo’Nique also recently said didn’t surprise her one bit: “How many stories have you read that a black actress signed a multimillion-dollar movie deal after winning the Oscar?” Berry, too, adds that the problem is industry-wide and won’t be solved until equal representation is the norm. “It’s really about truth telling. And as filmmakers and as actors, we have a responsibility to tell the truth,” she says. “And the films, I think, that are coming out of Hollywood aren’t truthful. And the reason they’re not truthful, these days, is that they’re not really depicting the importance and the involvement and the participation of people of color in our American culture.”

Halle Berry Calls #OscarsSoWhite ‘Heartbreaking’